COVID-19 Death Toll Has Surpassed That of 1918 Flu Pandemic

The death toll of the so-called "Spanish Flu" epidemic was estimated at 675,000, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The COVID-19 death toll in America has surpassed the number killed in the 1918 flu pandemic, which had been considered the worst epidemic in modern history.

Those killed by the coronavirus is now at least 675,446 people, according to Johns Hopkins University statistics. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has estimated that 675,000 residents of the United States perished in the fearsome, so-called "Spanish Flu" influenza that ended in 1919.

An estimated 50 million people around the world died as World War I raged.

The fast-moving spread of the recent delta variant and a bitter divide among Americans over wearing face masks and getting vaccinated has led to a surge of COVID-19 cases in the U.S., according to health experts.

The coronavirus is now the worst pandemic in recent American history.

Experts also cautioned that side-by-comparisons between COVID and the 1918 influenza epidemic lack context.

The country's population during the earlier epidemic is less than a third of today's estimated 330 million. According to those figures, about one in 150 Americans died in the 1918 pandemic, versus one in 500 residents today, CNBC reported.

The populations most affected by the pandemics are also vastly different. The 1918 flu tended to fell younger Americans, as young men bound for war packed overcrowded trains, ships and military camps. The coronavirus has hit hardest the elderly and those with underlying medical issues including respiratory problems.

“The fact that deaths surged at the end of 2020, nine months after the pandemic reached the United States, with the highest daily death tolls in early January 2021, is perhaps the most discouraging comparison to the historical record,” wrote E. Thomas Ewing, a Virginia Tech history professor, earlier this year in Health Affairs.  “We ignored the lessons of 1918, and then we disregarded warnings issued in the first months of this pandemic.”

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