Comparing the Coronavirus to the Spanish Flu

Coronavirus compared to the Spanish flu

The Coronavirus is sweeping the nation and many people believe some governments are making some of the same mistakes they did for the Spanish Flu as well, but more on that in a bit. In this article we will be breaking down the novel coronavirus to the 1918 pandemic strain of influenza that killed millions.

Background on the Coronavirus

Everyone is researching the Coronavirus now it seems like. Everyone has their own opinions on it as well. “Oh it is just the flu”, “No the flu is actually worse!”, “the sky is falling, this is the end of humanity (tinfoil hat alert)”. No matter what people should not be getting their news from tabloid sites such as daily mail or esquire etc. Even this website is not where you should be getting your news sources from. However, it seems like many people do not want to research these things so I decided to and below are the findings and at the bottom are link to take you to where I found this information.

The virus started in China as early as November to late December scientist believe. What is reported by credible news sources is that it was transmitted from animals at a seafood market in Wuhan, China. Whether you believe that or not is not what the current discussion is about. At the time of this article it is in 40 countries and here in the United States only 11 people have died with roughly 110 “confirmed cases”. I put quotes around that because there are many more cases and this much is clear, it does not take a scientist to know that the United States is purposefully being very strict on who can get tested for the Novel Coronavirus in America. They are not testing people even in states where the infection currently is. It has to be within the “epicenter”. The epicenter is just an area that has had burst or miniature outbreaks of the virus. Washington State and more specifically Seattle are epicenters of the virus.

Coronavirus and the Spanish flu mortality rate

How does the Coronavirus Translate to the Spanish Flu?

When it comes to the mortality rate of the novel coronavirus it is currently around 3.4% which is what the World Health Organization (WHO) reported March 3, 2020 (Aaro, 2020). Additionally, it appears that the 2020 Olympics will also either be cancelled or postponed (Aaro, 2020). The Spanish Flu’s mortality was much more severe it appears. In 1918 about one-third of the world’s population was infected with the Spanish flu (500 million people), the estimated number of deaths was at least 50 million (, 2020). It does not take a genius to do simple math to find out that the mortality rate was about 10% according to the Center for Disease Control. The Spanish Flu seems to be a mystery in the fact that many news sources say it had a mortality rate of 2-3% which would make it less than that of the novel coronavirus but doing the math given by the CDC show that it is indeed, a much higher fatality rate.

The 1918 influenza pandemic was the most severe pandemic in recent history (, 2020). It is still unclear what caused the flu but it is clear that I did not originated in Spain. It occurred during World War I and at the height of the war. Countries were pitted against each other and all countries had cases of this particular strain of influenza. However, no country came forward about it because they did not want the opposing side to find out and see it as a chance to strike. So they covered up the case. Spain was relatively neutral during World War I so they were the first ones to be honest about the outbreak in their country (, 2020). Recently epidemiologist speculate that the outbreak came to Spain from China when soldiers were shipped there. It seems like it is always China that has these outbreaks or is the cause of them. A detailed article of the Coronavirus and outbreaks in China can be found at

There were actually two different waves of the Spanish flu though. The flu first appeared in March of 1918 and seemed to just be a highly contagious strand of the flu (Roos, 2020). The pandemic went on to last two whole years but the vast majority of deaths happened in just three month in the fall of 1918 (Roos, 2020). It is speculated that the military members across the world moving, relocating, and traveling to different war zones across the world and back again made the virus mutate somewhere along the way causing it to be more deadly than the original wave of the virus.

Who dies because of the Coronavirus and the Spanish Flu?

This is where the two infections start to become different. The Spanish Flu was a deadly virus to pretty much anyone. However, it primarily killed individuals 0-5, 20-40, and 65+ years of age. The 20-40 was something that was brand new in terms of a pandemic, this infection was killing relatively healthy adults with strong immune systems (, 2020). CV seems to be slightly different, it can definitely still kill healthy individuals like the whistleblower of the Coronavirus Dr. Li Wenliang who was only 34 years of age. However, many people believe the Chinese Communist Party actually had him killed (honestly, feel like that would be a little less alarming for the rest of the world).

Typically, the coronavirus is killing elderly individuals or individuals with pre-existing immune diseases or illnesses. So the average health adult has a very good chance at getting the Coronavirus and recovering from it. Even though some recent articles suggest that the virus actually lies dormant in your system after one is “cured”. This is purely speculation at this point though.

How Easily can this Spread Compared to 1918?

The R0 is a rating in which epidemiologist give a disease or virus to dictate how fast it will spread to another person. If a disease has an R0 of 1.8 such as the Spanish Flu did than it means that when a person is infected, they typically pass it along to 1.8 people so typically 2 people, sometimes just one. Recent Coronavirus studies show that it can have a R0 of anywhere from 2.3-5.6. So it is quite a big jump in how easily these can be transmittable.

Differences in the Time Periods

​This is something that is definitely going to play a factor in how deadly or how easily the Coronavirus can spread compared to the Spanish Flu. Many people say today’s health care systems are so much better than back then. They would certainly be correct and it is not even close. However, there are factors in today’s society that could make this spread much quicker, and infect much more of the world than the Spanish Flu. Individuals are traveling at a pace that has never been seen before and certainly was not available in 1918. Soldiers were bringing the disease home on boats. Today, someone can get on a plan and be in another country in just a few hours. How think of the millions of people that travel, EVERY SINGLE DAY. How many of them do you think are currently carrying the virus and do not even know it yet because they have no fever or any other symptoms? 

​Additionally, according to a very disturbing statistic by there was a study done for individuals in which only 1% of people washed their hands the way the CDC recommends which is simply just wet, lather, scrub for 20 seconds, rinse, and dry your hands properly. That is simply astonishing and shows that this disease is not going to be eradicated anytime soon. 

​Something else to think about is your phone. That little extension of your arm that you glare at for hour’s every day is a germ infested world. It is unreal the amount of bacteria and germs is on someone’s phone. Individuals will wash their hands (probably incorrectly) and then proceed to touch their phone without properly disinfecting it. 

In today’s society fitness is probably bigger than it ever has been as well. The fitness industry is an absolute booming industry. However, the amount of germs in a traditional fitness center would give germophobes a heart attack. A treadmill done in a study had a bacteria level of 2,134 in just an average fitness center in America (, 2018). That of course is not good news when someone comes into the gym touches there mouth or nose and then touches pieces of equipment you use after them and then you touch your own mouth etc.

Fitness centers and the coronavirus

If you want to know ways to better prepare for the coming pandemic then follow the link below to come across our pandemic checklist article for more information.

While it may not be as deadly when it comes to percentages. It does appear that the coronavirus has the potential to infect a great population of the world and therefore reaching a high fatality number when this infection is under control. This is by far a pandemic and citizens should be preparing for such. If not for the virus than for possible quarantines and crazed citizens.


Aaro, D. (2020, March 4). Coronavirus global death rate at 3.4%, Olympics delay a possibility. (2019, October 3). When and how to Wash your hands.

Lee, B. Y. (2018 June 30). Study shows how bad people are at washing their hands.

McGinty, J. C. (2020, February 17). How many people might one person with Coronavirus infect?.

Roos, D. (2020, March 3). Why the Second Wave of the 1918 Spanish Flu Was So Deadly. Retrieved March 5, 2020, from (2018, January 18). Germs in gyms: Which popular machine is the geekiest?

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