It seems Dr. Anthony Fauci of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) would have us all believe that there’s no end in sight for the coronavirus pandemic. So we should all wear masks and stay holed up in our homes indefinitely.
But a few weeks ago, Senator Rand Paul (R-Kentucky) made a sensible suggestion. He said people who survive the virus should celebrate, stop wearing masks, and go on living their lives. I listen to Rand because, like his father, former congressman Ron Paul, he’s also a physician.
Plus, even the bubonic plague (the Black Death) of the 13th and 14th centuries and the Spanish flu of 1918-1920 came to an end. And they were both far, far more deadly than the coronavirus pandemic. They also ended on their own—without any vaccine or high-tech treatments (for the simple reason that there were none).
I always like to get some historical perspective—because we can usually learn a lot from it…especially when it comes to fighting pandemics.
Bubonic plague and Spanish flu were far more deadly than coronavirus
The Black Death of the 13th and 14th centuries ranks as the No. 1 worst pandemic in history—in terms of worldwide deaths.
And the Spanish flu, which we now know was a strain of the H1N1 virus, ranks as the second worst. It first hit in the fall of 1918, during the final months of WW I. (Some historians think it helped stop the final German counter-offensive, causing them to lose the war.) A second phase occurred between January and April 1919. And a third, smaller, and lesser-known phase took place in the winter of 1920.
Of course, when the Spanish flu virus emerged, there were no real “modern” medical treatments, such as IV drugs, respirators, or antibiotics to help with the pneumonia people often developed.
As a result, about 10 million people in the U.S. became extremely ill. It afflicted the very young and the very old…as you would expect from a flu virus. But it also attacked 20–to 45–year-olds in droves, which was unusual.
The Spanish flu was also quite virulent—killing about one out of 10 people who got it. Which means it had a mortality rate of almost 10 percent. And before it fizzled out, the Spanish flu caused 40 million worldwide deaths, including 750,000 in the U.S.
(Back in 1995, I suggested that microbiologists study the DNA present in lung tissues of soldiers who had died of Spanish flu to determine what made it so deadly. The tissues were archived in the historical collections at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, which I directed at the time.)
By comparison, COVID-19 now has a mortality rate of less than 1 percent and has killed less than half as many Americans. Plus, the U.S. population is three times higher today. (It was 100 million in 1920, compared to about 350 million today.) So, when all is said and done, I would bet the mortality rate comes in even lower!
The same factors fuel contagion
Of course, in 1918, for the first time in American history, more people lived in crowded cities rather than in rural areas, which significantly fueled the Spanish flu’s spread on U.S. soil. In fact, a popular song by Al Jolson asked, “How you gonna’ keep ‘em down on the farm, after they’ve seen Paree?” The song referenced all the soldiers returning home from France after the war.
Plus, since the federal government at the time had very little involvement in health (or anything outside of national defense), the cities imposed their own measures…which varied greatly. And over time, we learned that the most–effective measures came down to good personal hygiene, as I often report, and quarantining until no longer infected.
Unfortunately, many physicians and public health experts seem to have forgotten the simple lessons learned from the Spanish flu. In fact, I recently came across an interesting, but ultimately disappointing interview between Drs. John Whyte and Howard Markel in an online journal for physicians.
At one point, Dr. Whyte asked Dr. Markel, who I know as a physician-historian, why the Spanish flu essentially went away on its own. Instead of answering the question, Dr. Markel went on a long, politically correct exposition about why he thinks that herd immunity won’t work for combatting the coronavirus. And it seemed as though his real agenda was to promote the coronavirus vaccine, which he called a “magic bullet” that will protect us and, finally, “end this nightmare.” He stated, “What is the point of living in the 21st century if we’re relying on 13th-century methodologies?”
But as a historian, he should know that even virulent pandemics DO just go away on their own…as did the Spanish flu…and before that, the bubonic plague (which was a bacterial infection). And—they went away without any of the high-tech, 21st–century treatments, such as his “magic bullet” vaccine.
Of course, a couple of factors probably helped the Spanish flu burn itself out. For one, the weather changed (as it always does and always will). Second, the virus might have just attenuated and gotten milder. (The same thing seems to be happening with the coronavirus, as reported recently in The Washington Post. We’re still seeing rising cases…but fewer deaths.)
Sadly, while we continue to pour precious time, money, and resources into fighting a virus that will eventually go away on its own, our healthcare system continues to fail people battling serious, chronic, and extremely deadly diseases…such as cancer, heart disease, and Type II diabetes. Plus, these chronic, deadly diseases will NOT go away on their own, particularly in light of the flawed, mainstream, medical approaches.
Thankfully, you can take steps to support your overall immunity by starting to supplement daily with 10,000 IU (250 mcg) of vitamin D. (Learn more about my top immune health recommendations in my Pandemic Protection Playbook: How to become “immune ready” in every season. To gain access this essential guide, click here now!)
In addition, as I advised yesterday, don’t put off seeking treatment for real health problems—such as high blood sugar or blood pressure. Hopefully, you can find a practitioner who’s still actually seeing patients in the flesh!
Lastly, keep an eye out for the upcoming February 2021 issue of my Insiders’ Cures newsletter to learn about how to make the most of the medical situation with your doctor.
“How the Corona pandemic may end: Lessons from the 1918 Flu,” Medscape, November 12, 2020
“19 death rates are lower worldwide, but no one is sure whether that’s a blip or a trend.” Washington Post, 10/9/20. (washingtonpost.com/health/2020/10/09/covid-mortality-rate-down/)