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  • Writer's picturegraeme

Lockdown Reflections Day 34: Lessons from the 1918 flu

The only graph of mortality numbers you should be focused on is the one attached to this update. I’ve put two different versions up for you to see. This is the graph of people who died from the Spanish flu a hundred years ago. The most important feature is that this graph has three peaks. They’re called waves.

They thought they had the epidemic under control, so they eased up the quarantine and started going out into public again. And then the second wave began. A few months later, they thought they had it under control, again, and then winter came.

I remind you that before our Covid crisis began, I painted a scenario in which everyone in the world got Covid at some stage in the next two years (see I stand by that scenario. Until we find a vaccine, we will need to be very careful about physical distancing, knowing who’s sick and sanitising. This will - and must - disrupt our normal lives.

Lockdown is not there to stop or cure the disease. It was there to give the medical system a chance to prepare for the crisis. The end - or easing - of lockdown doesn’t mean we can go back to normal life. Germany is finding that out right now; just one week after easing their lockdown, they’re thinking of tightening it again because the virus is spreading too quickly. When your lockdown starts easing, make sure you act as if you’re still concerned about Covid, and know what a second and third wave would mean.

Don’t mess around with this virus. We have a century old lesson about what might happen if we underestimate it. We don’t want a second wave.

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