COVID-19 and the Spanish Flu

The entire COVID-19 or Coronavirus pandemic situation is quite disturbing, made worse by its disgusting politicization and a complete lack of leadership by all factions of government and society. The media has failed to maintain neutrality making it difficult to get perspective and helpful information. This causes fear and anxiety and that bothers me greatly. There is danger, there is something we need to do to protect ourselves, our family, our loved ones, and our species.

From a personal perspective nothing matters but saving oneself, saving the family. Further out in consciousness is the desire to save one’s society, or humanity. Even further out is the awareness that evolutionally these events may be healthy. This is not a popular notion.

I try to look at things from as neutral a perspective as possible. If life is to grow then it may require events that challenge survival. But I balance these perspectives with practical common sense. I want to protect myself and my family. How can I make sense of all the information out there, knowing some information is false and some is valid, recognizing there are both agendas and ignorance?

Looking back in history seems to be a reasonable first step, so I ask the question what happened to the Spanish Flu? First, lets remind ourselves what was the Spanish Flu.

The Spanish flu pandemic of 1918, the deadliest in history, infected an estimated 500 million people worldwide—about one-third of the planet’s population—and killed an estimated 20 million to 50 million victims, including some 675,000 Americans. The 1918 flu was first observed in Europe, the United States and parts of Asia before swiftly spreading around the world. At the time, there were no effective drugs or vaccines to treat this killer flu strain. Citizens were ordered to wear masks, schools, theaters and businesses were shuttered and bodies piled up in makeshift morgues before the virus ended its deadly global march.

Obviously similar to what we now face, and even more deadly. The same article goes on to explain that no origin of the Spanish Flu is known, although many are suspected. The symptoms and deaths affected people differently than past flu outbreaks with many young people dying. Hospital overcrowding, shortages of doctors and healthcare workers, quarantines, and the closing of businesses and schools happened then as they do now. There was a lack of good information and even guidance that made the death toll worse.

Before the spike in deaths attributed to the Spanish Flu in 1918, the U.S. Surgeon General, Navy and the Journal of the American Medical Association had all recommended the use of aspirin. Medical professionals advised patients to take up to 30 grams per day, a dose now known to be toxic. (For comparison’s sake, the medical consensus today is that doses above four grams are unsafe.) Symptoms of aspirin poisoning include hyperventilation and pulmonary edema, or the buildup of fluid in the lungs, and it’s now believed that many of the October deaths were actually caused or hastened by aspirin poisoning.

The advice given to the public by experts caused more deaths. Does this mean we cannot trust our experts? No, but it does mean we should be careful. We cannot simply jump on a bandwagon or point of view without careful consideration and open-mindedness. We must think for ourselves. We must remember we do not know everything, and neither do experts. Nature has its own way. Before I look at what is best for my family and self, I still wonder what happened to the Spanish Flu, where did it go?

By the summer of 1919, the flu pandemic came to an end, as those that were infected either died or developed immunity.

The virus ran its course. Ok, back to my family and me, was there anything that reduced deaths as the virus ran its course?

In both pandemics, the most effective immediate response was — and is — social distancing, Nichols said.

Social distance until the virus runs its course.

I am glad humanity tends to be optimistic and attempts to control destiny. I am glad we develop and invent medical technologies that fight off the many things that reduce lifespan and quality of life. But I remind myself that it is likely these many things will stay ahead of us, and that it is likely nature’s endeavor to help our species growth.

I am going to keep my heart and mind open to the suffering and needs of all humans, while honestly recognizing what I can do to help and then doing those things. I am going to monitor my fear and find ways to move forward that make sense, as opposed to simply steeping in social fear and confusion.

I am going to keep myself and my family away from sick people, and social distance as much as we can until the virus runs its course.