The 5 Most Deadly Pandemics in History: Including COVID-19

Credit: Eneas De Troya / Wiki Commons

We’re living through an extraordinary time. For over a year, many states have been locked down due to the coronavirus:

Knowing how this pandemic has blighted our lives, we’re curious as to where and how it compares to pandemics our ancestors faced.

These are the five most deadly pandemics in known human history:

1. Smallpox

Smallpox was not originally a pandemic, rather an endemic that originated from Europe and spread across Asia, Arabia, and Africa.

The disease killed one of every three people infected, with the remaining two left with pockmarked scars.

The disease mostly affected the indigenous population of the present-day United States and Mexico, who had zero immunity against it.

It is believed, 90-to-95 percent of the indigenous population were wiped out from smallpox:

Since 1900, an estimated 300-million people died from the disease.

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2. The Black Death

The Black Death was the return of the Justinian Plague (#3 on this list), returning after 800 years in 1347, and taking 200 million lives with it.

It was the time when the process of quarantine was first used for affected people. Many new techniques were used to avoid the spread including the isolation of sailors for 30-to-40 days but none of it proved to be effective.

Even the word “quarantine” originates during this time. The population of the world was once again reduced to half as a result of this plague.

3. Plague of Justinian

One of the deadliest plagues in the history of the world was caused by a single bacterium, known as Yersinia Pestis.

The plague arrived in Constantinople during the reign of the Byzantine Empire in 541 CE. It was carried over the Mediterranean sea from Egypt, a land that was conquered by Emperor Justinian.

The plague was transferred to human beings from flies who bit the rats in the cargo ships carrying grains. The rats eventually ate the grains making them affected.

The plague spread in Europe, Asia, and Africa like wildfire and took the lives of 30-50 million people. Some historians believe that the world population was reduced to half due to the plague.

There is no evidence of how the plague ended but some believe that those who survived had the immunity against the plague.

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4. Coronavirus

Most Deadly Pandemics - Coronavirus
(Credit: PIRO4D / Pixabay.com)

Coronavirus is a contemporary pandemic that has gripped the whole world:

The origin is up to debate. Yet, the current official stance is that it originated from a wet market in China. Beginning in the latter half of 2019, and later spread throughout the whole world in 2020.

The United States is currently the most affected country by the Coronavirus, also known as COVID-19.

Up till now, 127 million people have been affected by the virus from which 2.78 million have died.

Although, many vaccines are now available none of them has been found to be 100 percent effective against the disease.

With scientists believing that it will be one day remembered as one of the deadliest pandemics in the history of the world.

5. The Great Plague of London

The Great Plague of London was the third iteration of the Justinian Plague that surfaced in the capital of Great Britain in 1348.

In fact, the plague never left London as the city witnessed 40 outbreaks during a period of 300 years. The Great Plague of London took the lives of 20% of the cities population at the time.

The authorities took several measures to prevent the plague, new laws were introduced to isolate sick people. Cats and dogs were believed to carry the virus, so there was a huge massacre of these animals but nothing could save the city.

The Great Plague of London went on for seven months and took the lives of hundreds of thousands of Londoners. However, this was the last time London witnessed such a plague until coronavirus.

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