US reports COVID-19 deaths surpass toll of 1918 flu pandemic

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that there have been 680,000 Covid-19 deaths in the U.S. (at the time of writing), which is higher than the 675,000 deaths in the U.S. from the 1918 flu pandemic.

Despite the many controversies regarding all things Covid-19 related, the data shows that there have been close to 700,000 deaths in the U.S. from the virus. The major pandemic just over 100 years ago hit a number close to the current death count. Although the U.S. is much more populated than it was 103 years ago, at approximately 332,800,000 versus 1918’s 103,208,000, this is still a milestone, especially considering the advancements in medicine in the past century.

Earlier this month, the former leader of the CDC, Tom Friedan tweeted, “The number of reported deaths from Covid in the US will surpass the toll of the 1918 flu pandemic this month. We cannot become hardened to the continuing, and largely preventable, tragedy.” Since the tweet was sent, Johns Hopkins University and the CDC have reported numbers reaching and surpassing the 675,000 marker set in 1918. 

The Covid-19 pandemic has often been compared to the 1918 flu pandemic, as it was the largest pandemic of the 20th century and took the lives of 50 million people in a world of under 2 million people (Associated Press). The Covid-19 pandemic has led to 4 million deaths worldwide, with around 7¾ billion people in the world.

The death rate has ebbed and flowed, especially with cooler weather and the common flu making it worse. Vaccinations have helped, leading to less hospitalizations among vaccinated people who contract Covid-19 (CNN Health).

Based on data from Johns Hopkins University and the CDC, CNN Health released these claims: “The average rate of Covid-19 deaths in the 10 least vaccinated states was more than four times higher over the past week than the rate in the 10 most vaccinated states, according to a CNN analysis. In the least vaccinated states, roughly eight people out of every 100,000 residents died of Covid-19 over the past week, compared with only about two out of every 100,000 people in the 10 most vaccinated states.” 

Because technology was nothing close to what it is now, the 675,000 figure may not be completely accurate. Tracking deaths across states, much less the country would have been much more difficult since the Internet and cell phones were not around yet. In “America’s Forgotten Pandemic: The Influenza of 1918″, Alfred W. Crosby wrote that the U.S. Census Bureau’s data is the most accurate, but isn’t completely correct.

For example, approximately 77.8 percent of the “estimated” U.S. population in 1918 was able to provide data relating to the number of deaths from the flu pandemic. In other words, only about “30 of the then-48 states” was able to provide data. This leaves some gaps. The official death count reported was 549,000, meaning 675,000 came from estimating based on percentages (The Washington Post).



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