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The word 'pandemic' is making news and has induced a widespread panic globally. People are concerned about the connection of this word with the latest spread of coronavirus (COVID-19). Seeing the rise of COVID-19-infected people in China and other countries, the World Health Organization (WHO) warned the world to prepare for a pandemic, and on March 11, 2020, has confirmed that Coronavirus is indeed a pandemic.
So, what exactly does pandemic mean?
What Is A Pandemic?
A disease is declared as pandemic when it gets spread across international boundaries and affects a large number of people due to its fast contagious nature. It can spread from a small region to large geographic areas covering multiple continents or the entire world.
According to WHO, a disease is declared a pandemic when it is new to the human's immune system. In such cases, our body does not have specific antibodies which are required to fight against those new microorganisms. As a result, the person gets infected as soon as they come in contact with the pathogens. Also, due to the contagious nature of the disease, the infection gets spread to other individuals at a fast pace, usually through contaminated body fluids of the infected person like cough, blood, mucus and saliva.
However, not all diseases that are widespread across nations are called pandemics. To become a pandemic, the disease must be contagious too. For example, cancer is a worldwide disease that can occur to anyone. However, the disease is not a pandemic as it is not contagious. On the other hand, ebola is called a pandemic as it can spread from one person to another quickly due to its contagious nature.
Epidemic Vs Pandemic
COVID-19 was before considered an epidemic, but now it is a potential pandemic disease. Take a look at the difference between an epidemic and a pandemic.
Why COVID-19 Has Become A Pandemic
The rise of infected people due to COVID-19 is rising day by day and still, no cure has been discovered by the medical experts to treat this new, deadly and contagious form of coronavirus. To mention, coronavirus or COVID-19 is an animal-based group of viruses that mutate in their deadly forms and when gets transferred to humans, infect them and spread to others due to its highly contagious nature. It has spread to most countries of the world and affected over a 100,00 people, killing 4,300. The WHO has declared Coronavirus as a pandemic, as of March 11, 2020.
5 Deadly Pandemic Diseases In History
It is spread by a virus called Human immunodeficiency virus responsible for around 25 million deaths and 65 million infected cases worldwide. AIDS has become a pandemic in the year 2006, and still no accurate treatment is available for the disease, except for some therapies.
It occurred between 1910-1911 and was known as the 'sixth incarnation of cholera' which was originated from India and had killed around 0.8 million people along with spreading to other geographical areas like Middle east, Russia and Eastern Europe.
3. Black Death
The disease had spread between 1346-1353 and had wiped out around 200 million people worldwide-around 60% of the total population during the time. The black death was a plague spread from the rats and flies via merchant ships.
4. Hong Kong Flu
This pandemic disease originated from China and became pandemic in the year 1968. It was the third incident of an influenza outbreak that has caused around 25-50 million deaths worldwide.
5. Russian Flu
It is also known as ‘Asiatic Flu' caused by influenza, a subtype H2N2. the virus is also known as the 'Asian flu' virus identified in the year 1957 in East Asia. Russian flu is known to cause around 1 million deaths worldwide.
1. What was the worst pandemic in history?
The ‘Black Death' was considered the worst pandemic in history which has killed around 75-200 million people around the world in the 14th century. Other pandemic diseases following the black death were HIV, hong kong flu and 6th cholera.
2. Is cancer a pandemic?
No, cancer is not considered a pandemic despite the fact that it is killing millions of people worldwide every year. Pandemic is a term given to a disease which is infectious or contagious in nature. As cancer is not contagious, it is not a pandemic.
3. How did the ‘Black Death' end?
The black death was the deadliest plague of the years between 1347-1351 which had started in Europe. The disease had haunted millions of people worldwide throughout the 14th-17th century. After the first outbreak, the world had experienced several outbreaks between 1360- 1667. The last major epidemic of the black death was known to end between 1665-1666 in England.