Colder Months Increase Importance of Public Health Measures

The 2020 COVID-19 pandemic is not a unique event, though there likely aren’t any people who can remember the events of the last one. When World War I was ending in 1918, there was an influenza pandemic. There are many similarities between that pandemic and the COVID-19 pandemic. The primary differences are fairly obvious.

  • There was no large scale war occurring in the early part of the 21st century (when the COVID-19 pandemic occurred) like at the beginning of the 20th The war helped to spread the disease incredibly quickly around the world. However, with global travel being a lot easier in 2020, the spread of COVID-19 has been just as quick.
  • Molecular biology did not even exist in 1918, and vaccines were just starting to become available. This made it far more difficult to fight influenza. By comparison, it took less than a year for several vaccines to be completed to help protect against COVID-19.

In a lot of other ways, the two pandemics have been very similar. Two of the most critical ways that they are similar is how they seem to be transmitted through close contact or being in close quarters and that they both attack the respiratory system. However, there are many other similarities that could help to translate successful measures used to minimize the “Great Influenza of 1918” to reduce the spread of COVID-19 during the winter of 2020.

  • Both are new strains of their respective ailments, making humans more susceptible to them.
  • Both began to really spread by the early spring, but the diseases had a much larger spreading event during the fall.
  • Colder months cause the much more rapid spread of the infection, likely because people meet up inside to keep warm, increasing how easily the virus can spread.

With the two illnesses being so similar in their method of transmission, the ways to prevent spread are similar as well. The recommendations to wear masks and avoid large gatherings are based on the measures taken from the Influenza Pandemic. Regularly and thoroughly washing hands, as well as keeping a physical distance from other people helped to reduce the spread of Influenza about 100 years ago, indicating that  adopting these measures today will be just as effective. It is also important to keep in mind that having a vaccine does not mean that the measures should stop being practiced.

If you would like to learn more about the historical events that indicate the likely trajectory of the pandemic, read Colder Months Increase Importance of Public Health Measures. Another article that could be helpful is Decreased Influenza Activity During the COVID-19 Pandemic – United States, Australia, Chile, and South Africa, 2020. Since the southern hemisphere experiences winter during the summer months of the northern hemisphere, the successful containment in some of the southern nations can help the nations in the northern hemisphere if implemented.

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