Members of the American Red Cross carry a body during the 1918-20 “Spanish flu” pandemic which resulted in dramatic mortality rates worldwide.Temporary graves in Iran, during the COVID-19 pandemic. Similar dramatic measures have also been taken in other countries, while some others required cremation.
A pandemic (from Greek ???, pan, “all” and ?????, demos, “people”) is an epidemic of an infectious disease that has spread across a large region, for instance multiple continents or worldwide, affecting a substantial number of people. A widespread endemic disease with a stable number of infected people is not a pandemic. Widespread endemic diseases with a stable number of infected people such as recurrences of seasonal influenza are generally excluded as they occur simultaneously in large regions of the globe rather than being spread worldwide.
Throughout human history, there have been a number of pandemics of diseases such as smallpox and tuberculosis. The most fatal pandemic in recorded history was the Black Death (also known as The Plague), which killed an estimated 75–200 million people in the 14th century. Other notable pandemics include the 1918 influenza pandemic (Spanish flu). Current pandemics include COVID-19 and HIV/AIDS.
Estimated HIV/AIDS prevalence among young adults (15-49) by country as of 2008 Although the WHO uses the term “global epidemic” to describe HIV(“WHO HIV/AIDS Data and Statistics”. Retrieved 12 April 2020.), some authors use the term “pandemic”. HIV is believed to have originated in Africa. AIDS is currently a pandemic, with infection rates as high as 25% in southern and eastern Africa. In 2006, the HIV prevalence rate among pregnant women in South Africa was 29%. Effective education about safer sexual practices and bloodborne infection precautions training have helped to slow down infection rates in several African countries sponsoring national education programs.
A new strain of coronavirus which was first identified in Wuhan, Hubei province, China, in late December 2019, has caused a cluster of cases of an acute respiratory disease, which is referred to as coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).
According to media reports, more than 200 countries and territories have been affected by COVID-19, with major outbreaks occurring in central China, Iran, Western Europe and the United States.
On 11 March 2020, the World Health Organization characterized the spread of COVID-19 as a pandemic. As of 1 July 2020, the number of people infected with COVID-19 has reached 10,591,470 worldwide, of whom 5,800,659 have recovered. The death toll is 514,050.
It is believed that these figures are understated as testing did not commence in the initial stages of the outbreak and many people infected by the virus have no or only mild symptoms and may not have been tested.
Similarly, the number of recoveries may also be understated as tests are required before cases are officially recognised as recovered, and fatalities are sometimes attributed to other conditions.
This was especially the case in large urban areas where a non-trivial number of patients died while in their private residences. It was later discovered that asymptomatic hypoxia due to COVID-19 pulmonary disease may be responsible for many such cases.