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How Does COVID-19 Compare To Other Pandemics

We have not been unknown to diseases that have threatened human life. As this new virus spreads, it is natural to compare it with other epidemics from past to understand its severity. Let’s see how does COVID-19 compare to other pandemics our kind has endured.

The Spanish Flu Epidemic, 1918

This 2 year long pandemic infected over 500 million people around the world. It had a high mortality rate around 20-50 million deaths. Many believe the pandemic ended because the virus mutated to a less dangerous strain. The World War I had just ended and there was a lack of knowledge. It is difficult to accurately map an economic model for the event. Hence, identifying the exact economic impact of the epidemic is difficult. You can further read this paper on the flu’s economic effects written in 2007.

Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), 2002

SARS spread to 29 countries infecting around 8000 people with 774 deaths. While the numbers were low, the mortality rate was 10 percent! The epidemic originated from Guangdong province in China and mainly affected China over its 2 year span. It ended primarily due to the inability of the virus to survive in humans. In terms of the economic impact, the overall GDP of infected countries went down. Furthermore, the hotel, tourism and travel businesses took a hit. SARS costed the global economy an estimate of $50 billion. The impact was relatively small as the diseases mainly affected China and parts of Asia.

H1N1 (Swine) Flu, 2009

While the numbers are ambiguous, H1N1 (Swine) Flu infected around 700 million to 1.4 billion people – almost 20% of the world population. The death rate was comparatively low around 0.03% (approx. 300,000). It took nearly a year to develop the vaccine for H1N1. While the world was already reeling under the economic recession of 2008, the flu only added to the woes. The economic impact of H1N1 was estimated at around 0.8% of the world’s gross domestic product (GDP).

Ebola, 2014

Ebola infected around 28,652 people across the globe with 11,325 deaths. While the numbers were low, the mortality rate was around 40%! A vaccine used extensively in 2017-2018 to combat ebola, got approved by the FDA in 2019. The economic impact of the Ebola virus on the global economy was narrow as it was mainly the economies of the African continent which suffered from the disease.

COVID-19, 2019

Currently, more than 860,000 people are infected with the virus with a mortality rate of almost 4%. The widespread panic about virus has gravely affected the global economy and the stock market. Countries have improsed travel restrictions and some have even closed their borders. Measures such as quarantine and social distance are taken in the hopes to slowdown the virus of spreading. There are multiple authorities collaborating for the development of medicine to fight coronavirus. There are also multiple vaccines already in the testing phase. Hopefully there will be a vaccine out in the coming months and we all can put this behind us.

COVID-19 compare to other pandemics
Countries with travel restrictions due to COVID-19
Summing Up

COVID-19 cannot be compared to other pandemics in this list, as we are much better equipped to handle it with advanced technology and better healthcare systems. Back in 1918, doctors knew about the existence of viruses but didn’t have much knowledge to tackle it. Also compared to 2002 SARS, the world is far more globalized. Presently, the global economy is heavily reliant on China for manufacturing and trade. Furthermore, the terror of Covid-19 is racing faster through digital media and causing more widespread panic than past pandemics. This aggravated anxiety and the shutting down of businesses has taken a major toll on the global markets.We hope this COVID-19 comparison to other pandemics was insightful. Follow our COVID-19 thread on tracking COVID-19 for more updates. In our next post, we will examine the US Stimulus Package to combat COVID-19.


The materials and data contained herein are for information only and shall in no event be construed as an offer to purchase or sell or the solicitation of an offer to purchase or sell any securities in any jurisdiction. Kristal Advisors does not make any representation, undertaking, warranty or guarantee as to the update, completeness, correctness, reliability or accuracy of the materials and data herein. All opinions, forecasts or estimation expressed herein are subject to change without prior notice. Kristal Advisors and its affiliates accept no liability or responsibility whatsoever for any direct or consequential loss and/or damages arising out of or in relation to any use of opinions, forecasts, materials and data contained herein or otherwise arising in connection therewith.

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