The Spanish flu of 1918 was more deadly in New York City than the coronavirus in 2020 – but COVID-19 pushed the death toll much higher for the first months of the year. what would be seen in a typical year, a new study finds.
At the height of the coronavirus crisis in New York City, 33,465 people in a population of 8.2 million people died from COVID-19 or some other cause.
About 2,000 fewer people died during the Spanish flu crisis, but they made up a large part of the population.
However, the Harvard University scientists behind the new study found that because the daily death toll outside of pandemic conditions is so much lower today than it was a century ago, the coronavirus made New York City’s fatalities by twice the amount of the Spanish. . flu did it.
They suspect that despite better medical technology and hygiene practices, the shutdown was lifted too early, leading to additional spikes in coronavirus deaths and cases.
During the coronavirus pandemic, there were about four times more deaths in the first months of 2020 than in 2017, 2018 or 2019, researchers at Harvard found.
Coronavirus has killed more than 166,000 Americans to date. At least 18,970 of them were New York City residents – and probably thousands more.
The first case of COVID-19 in New York City on March 1. The town’s first death was reported on March 14.
But non-essential businesses were not shut down until March 20.
Worse, scientists now think the virus had arrived in New York City as early as January.
At the height of the pandemic in the city, the coronavirus killed nearly 600 people in one day.
The numbers were awful. But modern hygiene and medical care have helped keep the death toll from coronavirus, and from any other cause, lower than in other circumstances, such as 100 years ago.
It is estimated that between 500,000 and 850,000 Americans died from Spanish flu between 1918 and 1920.
Not unlike the coronavirus, Native American tribes were among the hardest hit groups in the nation.
An important differentiator between 1918 and now: hand washing.
Reliable and ubiquitous access to clean water and, as a result, the ability to wash hands regularly was not a guarantee in the US until about the mid-20th century.
In 1940, only about half of the homes in the US had a bathroom.
With better water systems came better septic systems and general hygiene practices.
The Spanish flu of 1918 almost doubled the number of deaths in 1918 compared to a year between 1914 and 1917
That’s largely attributed to the extension of American life expectancy from sometime in the 1940’s to the present day’s 80’s.
Hygiene has drastically reduced the transmission of infectious diseases, including the flu and now coronavirus.
In absence, there were about 287 deaths, regardless of cause, per 100,000 person-months at the height of the Spanish flu in New York City.
That meant that in 1918 there were about 2.8 deaths for every death in the years 1914 to 1917.
In comparison, there were more than four deaths during the height of the 2020 coronavirus pandemic in New York City per each that occurred in one year between 2017 and 2019.
“These findings suggest that the mortality associated with COVID-19 during the early phase of the New York City outbreak was similar to the peak mortality observed during the 1918 H1N1 flu pandemic,” the Harvard researchers wrote.
However, because baseline mortality rates from 2017 to 2019 were less than half of those observed between 1914 and 1917 (due to improvements in hygiene and modern achievements in medicine, public health, and safety), the relative increase during the early COVID-19 period significantly greater than during the peak of the 1918 H1N1 influenza pandemic. ‘
They noted that many people in the US believe that restrictions to slow the spread of the coronavirus were lifted too early, meaning cases and deaths were never kept to a minimum.
“ In many areas, shutdowns in particular did not adequately reduce caseloads in many areas, meaning subsequent spikes in new cases during the summer stretch U.S. hospital resources in many areas, ” the researchers wrote.
We believe that our findings could help officials and the public to contextualize the unusual magnitude of the COVID-19 pandemic, leading to more prudent policies that could help reduce transmission by reducing the number of effective reproductions of SARS -CoV-2 and prevent exhaustion. of vital supplies of life-saving resources in the coming weeks and beyond. ‘