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This world’s history has witnessed many plagues, epidemics and pandemics. Also, in the recent past and the industrial revolution age. Furthermore, it happened during the World Wars and the medieval ages. These include swine-flu, AIDS pandemic, Ebola and the Zika Virus. The pandemics according to locations are the Russian, Spanish and French pandemics. Ironically can’t forget the current pandemic i.e. COVID-19, easily can feature in Top 20 list of global diseases.

Hence, there is no doubt that Coronavirus or COVID-19 has been one of the most dangerous and life taking pandemics. The Top 20 list of the global pandemics is what COVID-19 truly deserves due to its global impacts. This is the list that the world has seen since the first known in history. It happened very early i.e. prehistoric times, i.e. 3000 BC. Originated from a prehistoric village some 5,000 years ago in China. This prehistoric epidemic is known as circa and is the oldest and most ancient in history. 

history of pandemics
history of pandemics


The origination of these different pandemics and epidemics has been from many different countries. These are the likes of AIDS or HIV i.e. a deadly pandemic that originated from West-Africa. It is still present and incurable in most circumstances. It’s important in the current times to have know-how and history of these viruses and pandemics. The main reason is that they took many lives and has been linked with huge devastation globally. These pandemics and epidemics also have a huge significance in medical history with relations to research & development for scientists of the modern ages. 

Medical science is now far more equipped with technology and research. Therefore, it can identify far better how we can get ourselves safe from a pandemic threat. ‘COVID-19’, the medical name of coronavirus has already taken over 90,000 lives. These are global facts from all over the world and it is also a cause of lock downs in most countries. However, the fight persists with most deaths in Italy, Spain, United States, China, and the United Kingdom. 

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Hence, the most recent of the pandemics in history are discussed below with key facts;


Zika Virus is a current-day pandemic in the region of Central America and South America. However, the impacts of Zika won’t be known in several years. The main reason is as scientist faces a huge race against time so that the virus gets under control. 

It spreads through the mosquitoes of the Aedes genus, however, the virus can also be transmitted sexually in humans. The virus might not be harmful to adults and children. But, it can attack infants’ i.e. newborn babies and infants who are still in the womb. It can be a huge cause of birth effects and complexities in childbirth. 

The mosquito type that carries the Zika virus can flourish and survive in warm weather and humid conditions. That’s why it flourishes in South America, Central America, & parts of Southern United States. 


E-bola, the most recent epidemics in history that started in West Africa in 2014. The existence is no more but has been the cause of many deaths. According to stats approximately 11,500 and 29,000 reported cases in the world. Just like AIDS or HIV this epidemic also originated from the African continent. The disease was quick in its spreading as it started from Liberia and Sierra Leone. Hence, there was a huge bulk of cases and reported deaths especially from these two developing countries. A report of some minor cases also came from parts of Europe, USA, Senegal, Mali and Nigeria. 

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According to scientists, the virus may have originated in bats and still has no cure.  

SWINE FLU PANDEMIC- H1N1- 2009-2010  

Swine Flu pandemic has been more fatal in terms of deaths as compared to the current pandemic COVID-19. It originated in 2009 from Mexico as it spread in the rest of the world. Swine flu’s stats show its one of the most dangerous of the pandemics in history. The death counts were somewhere between 150,000- 575,000 people from all over the world. These facts are according to the CDC and are fact-based.  

The pandemic caused more deaths in young people i.e. children and young adults. 80% of the deaths that occurred were people younger than 65 years old. This has something to do with the immunity. Although the immunity for elder people to fight against a pandemic is lesser than in younger people and children. A vaccine for the H1N1 virus that caused the swine flu is now an inclusion in the annual flu vaccine. 


The pandemic that originated from West Africa, known medically as HIV. It is still one of the deadliest and most feared of the diseases in history. One of the most deadly since it was identified, has taken approx. 35 million lives all over the world. The disease likely developed from a monkey virus to be exact a chimpanzee virus from West Africa in the 1920s. Stats show that 64% of the estimated 40 million people living with AIDS live in Sub-Saharan Africa. 

ASIAN FLU: 1957 – 1958

Another deadly flu known as the Asian flu pandemic was a cause of many deaths globally. The roots were in China and claimed 1 million lives. Initial reporting of Asian flu cases started in the year 1957. Singapore, was the first country to report the first case, followed by Hong Kong. Finally, later in 1957, the third country reporting Asian flu was States. The total toll went up to 1.1 million all over the globe and the USA alone reported 116,000 deaths. 

spanish flu
Spanish flu

SPANISH FLU: 1918-1920

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There were an estimated 500 million people. Huge numbers ranging from the South Seas to the North Pole that fell victims. The flu that started during World War 1, was named Spanish flu. This was due to some errors although Spain was a neutral country in World War. 

However, other countries were also involved and highly impacted. Incidentally, its name ended up being the Spanish flu. One-fifth of the population that were victims of the flu died. Significantly, there were huge losses apart from the destruction during World War 1. 


It started in New York City in the USA. According to numbers was not such a huge  devastation. However, but still caused 6,000 deaths and 27,000 cases reported. The Polio epidemic was mainly in children and sometimes was a cause of permanent disabilities. The Salk vaccine developed in 1954 reduced the number of deaths. Hence, since its arrival the polio epidemic cases in the USA became low. The last case of the Polio epidemic in history was reported in the USA in 1979. 

FLU PANDEMIC: 1889-1890  

It started from Russia from Saint Peters burg and made its way to Europe and the rest of the world. This happened despite air travel that didn’t exist as yet. It was in just a week during the industrial revolution. The pandemic spread and killed 1 million people, most mortality in Europe. 

Hence, took 5 weeks to reach peak mortality.  Those were the times when medicine and medical science were not advanced enough as compared with today.

 RUSSIAN PLAGUE – 1770 – 1772 

Another disease that originated from Russia in 1770 and started exactly from the current capital Moscow. By the time the plague came to an end. Ironically, it proved devastating in 2 years and took 100,000 lives. This is nearly the count of pandemic COVID-19. The empress of Russia, Catherine II, ordered fast restoration. Hence, in desperation, she ordered the movement of all the factories from Moscow.


This plague originated from Marseilles, France and is known as the Great Plague of Marseilles. It started from a ship that quarantined and docked in Marseilles, France and was a cargo vehicle. The plague got into the city through infected rodents and spread quickly killing 100,000 people in Marseilles alone.

The figures and stats according to historians are claiming huge numbers of perishments. It says 30 % of the population of Marseilles may have perished within 2 years of the plague. Apparently, this is apart from those victims who died of the plague.

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Syed Alamdar Hussain
Syed Alamdar Hussainhttps://blog.mbeforyou.com
Syed Alamdar Hussain is the Country Head of MBE Inc. His creative work & his articles on the blog are a true reflection of his motivational thinking.

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