By Staff Reporter
Italy has had a tough previous century and things are not looking any better in the current century. Having had to endure two big tragedies between 1918 and the World War II, Italians would have breathed a sigh of relief in the turn of this new century hoping for the best.
One of the two named tragedies was predictably ruthless because he was human. Il Duce Benito Musollini was so evil, he killed his own family to feed his ego and prove himself worthy.
The other tragedy was the Spanish Flue. The striking similarities of what happened then, in 1918, and now, 2020, are too similar to ignore. The 1918 influenza pandemic was the most severe pandemic till COVID 19. It is said to have caused by an H1N1 virus with genes of avian origin the same as the one which hit Asian in the 2000s. Although there is not universal consensus regarding where the virus originated, it spread worldwide during 1918-1919.
In the United States, it was first identified in military personnel in spring 1918. It affected the soldiers who fought in the World War. It is estimated that about 500 million people or one-third of the world’s population were infected with this virus. The number of deaths was estimated to be at least 50 million worldwide with about 675,000 occurring in the United States. These numbers are far bigger than those who fell in the World War 1, 2, Vietnam and Afghanistan combined.
What was even more interesting was the mortality rate which was higher in people younger than 5 years old, 20-40 years old, and 65 years and older. The high mortality rate in healthy people, including those in the 20-40 year age group, was a unique feature of this pandemic.
The Centres for Disease Control and Prevention journal says, “While the 1918 H1N1 virus has been synthesized and evaluated, the properties that made it so devastating are not well understood. With no vaccine to protect against influenza infection and no antibiotics to treat secondary bacterial infections that can be associated with influenza infections, control efforts worldwide were limited to non-pharmaceutical interventions such as isolation, quarantine, good personal hygiene, use of disinfectants, and limitations of public gatherings, which were applied unevenly.”
A 2018 paper by Alessio Fornasini showed that a little less than 500 000 people died of this pandemic.
Fornasini wrote, “This paper proposes a new estimate for the number of victims of Spanish flu in Italy and highlights some aspects of mortality closely linked to the First World War. The sources used are official death statistics and the Albo d’oro, a roll of honor of the Italians fallen in the First World War. The new estimate of deaths from the flu is 410,000 for 1918, which should be raised to 466,000 when the numbers are taken up to 1920. Deaths from Spanish flu among the military were about 70,000. The time sequence of deaths recognizes two distinct peaks, one in October and one in November 1918. Between these two peaks, the lowest number of deaths falls in the week of the armistice between Italy and Austria-Hungary (signed 4 November 1918). This suggests links between Spanish flu and WWI that cannot be merely explained in terms of movement of people and contagion.”
As this new version of the Corona Virus known as COVID19 wrecks rampage it is only fair to draw some striking similarities on the effects to the World. It is said that if people do not adhere to the guidelines set by health expects, a total of 60% of the world population could be infected.
As Italy has been hard hit by this tragedy as the Spanish flu of 1918, could this be the actual return of the dark angel. The way the virus is spreading is alarming. People may be sick with the virus for 1 to 14 days before developing symptoms. The most common symptoms of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) are fever, tiredness, and dry cough. Most people, about 80%, recover from the disease without needing special treatment. More rarely, the disease can be serious and even fatal. Older people, and those with pre existing conditions such as asthma, diabetes, or heart disease) are more vulnerable.
The truth is the COVID19 is not an Italian or a Chinese virus, everyone can get. As we mourn fellow soldier in the media, Zororo Makamba, we urge everyone to be safe and to stay home. This virus is stronger than the SARS, Bird flu and swine flu. Not even dictators such as Hitler and Mussolini have the same devastating effects as this disease. Although it is similar to the Spanish flu the COVID19 is ruthless.