The Spanish flu (1918-20): The global impact of the largest influenza pandemic in history by Max Roser In the last 150 years the world ...

The Spanish flu (1918-20): The global impact of the largest influenza pandemic in history



The Spanish flu (1918-20): The global impact of the largest influenza pandemic in history by Max Roser

In the last 150 years the world has seen an unprecedented improvement in health. The visualization shows that in many countries life expectancy, which measures the average age of death, doubled from around 40 years or less to more than 80 years. This was not just an achievement across these countries; life expectancy has doubled in all regions of the world. What also stands out is how abrupt and damning negative health events can be. Most striking is the large, sudden decline of life expectancy in 1918, caused by an unusually deadly influenza pandemic that became known as the ‘Spanish flu’.

But it was named as such because Spain was neutral in the First World War (1914-18), which meant it was free to report on the severity of the pandemic, while countries that were fighting tried to suppress reports on how the influenza impacted their population to maintain morale and not appear weakened in the eyes of the enemies.

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