In January, 2009, a novel strain of the H1N1 virus (labelled H1N1-pdm09 which became more popularly known as Swine Flu) emerged, creating a pandemic that lasted 19 months and killing as many as half-a-million people worldwide, according to estimates.
Very much like the coronavirus situation, there was no immunity or vaccine at the start of the outbreak, which caused widespread panic.
The first the case of the H1N1 was detected in Mexico, after which the virus went on to infect 24 percent of the world’s population. While there is no definite figure, the Center for Disease Control and Protection estimated that 151,700-575,400 people worldwide died from H1N1 infection during the first year the virus circulated. In the United States alone, the CDC estimated there were 60.8 million cases, with 12,469 deaths. Unlike the coronavirus, the disease was more deadly for younger demographics. It was estimated that 80 percent of H1N1 victims worldwide were younger than 65 years of age.
Thankfully, after a vaccine was released in December, 2009, the World Health Organization (WHO) was finally able to announce the end of the pandemic ten months later in August 2010. From that date, health experts had warned that a new global pandemic would inevitably emerge in the not-so-distant future. And so their predictions have finally become a reality a decade later as the world struggles to deal with the unprecedented social, health and economic fallout of the coronavirus pandemic.
How does H1N1 compare to Covid-19?
So how do the numbers compare to date, bearing in mind, of course, the WHO is still a long way off announcing an end to the current coronavirus pandemic.
At the time of writing, there were 2,165,500 confirmed cases of coronavirus, with 145,593 deaths. At the end of the 2009/10 Swine Flu pandemic, confirmed cases and deaths from H1N1 stood at 1.6 million and 18,448, respectively. However, as aforementioned, the estimations are much higher, suggesting that the current coronavirus figures could also be a long way off the reality.
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