Coronavirus and Spanish flu: economic lessons to learn from the last truly global pandemic
The economic consequences of 1918 could offer important lessons for policy measures to deal with the new coronavirus. Dr Eoin McLaughlin of University College Cork and Dr Chris Colvin explore the lessons from the past.
As news of the global spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) emerged, global financial markets reacted pessimistically and behaved in ways not seen since the 2008 financial crisis. But fully understanding the potential future economic impact of the virus which leads to this disease remains difficult – because spread of a disease on this scale is unprecedented in the modern world.
The closest parallel is the 1918 influenza pandemic, popularly known as the Spanish flu (because it was first reported in Spanish newspapers). So what are the lessons from this historical pandemic for policymakers today?
The 1918 flu was the last truly global pandemic, its potency exacerbated in an era before the existence of international public health bodies such as the World Health Organisation. About one-third of the world’s population caught this acute respiratory tract infection.
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Article originally appeared in The Conversation.