The COVID-19 pandemic is far from over, but the official death toll has already surpassed the estimated fatalities from the 1918 influenza outbreak, making it the deadliest health crisis in recent American history.

Influenza Outbreak vs. COVID-19 Pandemic

Johns Hopkins University reported on its website Monday that the deaths in the country due to COVID-19 have already reached 676,059. This means that the number of fatalities already surpassed the estimated 675,000 from the flu outbreak that occurred between the spring of 1918 and the spring of 1919.

The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention dubbed the influenza pandemic as the most severe health crisis in recent history since the H1N1 virus was documented to have infected about 500 million people worldwide or about one-third of the world’s population at the time. While an estimated 675,000 deaths were reported in the U.S., at least 50 million people were said to have died due to the influenza virus globally.

Compared to the present time, the people who faced the influenza pandemic did not have that much resources to counter the disease. Aside from the fact that there was no vaccine for H1N1 at the time, the CDC and other public health agencies were not yet around to guide the public. Treatments were also very limited.

Drawing Comparisons Between Past & Present

Based on the latest figures, COVID-19 fatalities are rising at an average of over 1,900 per day, making it possible for the current pandemic to exceed influenza estimates by a wide margin. And this is very likely as the country is still seeing spikes in transmissions amid the rise of the fast-spreading delta variant of the novel coronavirus, according to CNBC.

Despite the anxiety amd trepidation that newer variants are causing, there are several factors that could help better contain the coronavirus outbreak. The availability of vaccines, treatments, ventilators and antibiotics makes a big difference in the war against COVID-19. Information dissemination through social media also helps the general public better understand the situation.

But for University of Michigan medical historian and physician Howard Markel, MD, PhD, it’s about time for the medical community to stop bringing up the past and previous pandemics when mapping out plans on how to act during the present-day pandemic and beyond 2021. He added that it’s hard to draw comparisons considering the technological, medical, cultural and social advances in the present time.