Comparing Two Flu Pandemics
The Spanish Fu (H1N1) (SF) was present from 1918 to 1920 when the COVID-19 (SARS-CoV-2) (C-19) started in 2020 and still present at the end of 2021.
SF – 4 waves: spring 1918, fall 1918(with a very contagious variant), spring 1919 and spring 1920.
C-19 – 4 waves: spring 2020, fall 2020, spring 2021 (with highly contagious variants), fall 2021.
SF – United States; spread to Europe by American soldiers.
C-19 – China; spread by natural transmission from animal to humans, or by an accidental leak of the virus being studied in a laboratory. Note that current studies on the origin of the virus are not conclusive.
Entry ports in Canada
SF – Halifax, Quebec and Montreal, which are arrival ports for troupes coming from Europe.
C-19 – Travellers from Ontario, British-Columbia, and Quebec coming from abroad either by plane, cruise ships or vehicle.
Cross-country transmission (Canada)
SF – Through the railway system going from east to west.
C-19 – International and domestic travelling as well as various large gatherings; community spread also an issue.
Death in Canada
SF – 55,000 persons (plus 60,000 deaths due to World War I of 1914-1918).
C-19 – 29,056 persons (as of November 2021).
SF – Between 50 to 100 million people.
C-19 – Over 5 million people.
Age groups most affected
SF – Young adults between 20 and 40 years of age.
C-19 – N.B. – Final data not available yet.
SF – Isolation of sick people; sporadic use of quarantine; public gatherings not permitted; wearing the mask mandatory in public places.
C-19 – Orders change as the situation evolves: isolation of sick people; quarantine mandatory for all travellers entering the country; lockdowns; public gatherings restricted partially or completely; wearing a mask mandatory in public; social distancing and hand sanitizing; virus screening tests; vaccines available to some age groups as of December 2020 and to all adults and teenagers (12-19 years) in 2021.
SF – No vaccine nor efficient treatment are available.
C-19 – Various treatments at the hospital, according to patient need.
Effects on the national economy
SF – Paralyzed because of lack of healthy workers; restricted use of Bell telephone services due to lack of operators.
C-19 – Depending on the waves: closure of several kinds of businesses and of public places; businesses or services considered essential operating at reduced capacity; some forms of financial aid available to workers, businesses and organizations; stock shortages; increased price for certain products.
Effects on health care services
SF – Health professionals very affected; support visits to sick people provided by volunteers, nurses, paramedical and religious staff.
C-19 – Burnt out frontline workers, especially in health care; some hospitals operating at fullcapacity have to transfer patients to other hospitals out of the region or even out of the province; staff shortage in certain disciplines.
SF – 1919: creation of the federal Department of Health, which allowed sharing of public health responsibilities among all levels of government .
C-19 – N.B. – Too early to tell.
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