Covid-19 Has Killed as Many Americans as the 1918 Spanish Flu Pandemic

Covid-19 Has Killed as Many Americans as the 1918 Spanish Flu Pandemic
In this Oct. 19, 1918 file photo provide by the U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command a sign is posted at the Naval Aircraft Factory in Philadelphia that indicates, the Spanish Influenza was then extremely active. (Photo: U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command, AP)

The covid-19 pandemic has killed over 676,000 Americans, surpassing the estimated U.S. deaths from the 1918 Spanish Flu pandemic. And despite rising vaccination rates, it looks like covid-19 is going to kill a lot more Americans before this thing is over.

The U.S. reported 208,713 new cases of covid-19 on Monday, with 2,262 new deaths from the disease, startling numbers being driven largely by unvaccinated Americans who are helping spread the highly contagious Delta variant of the virus.

As NPR points out, the U.S. population was roughly one-third in 1918 what it is today, meaning that a larger percentage of the population was wiped out by Spanish Flu. But covid-19 is far from over and still has plenty of time to kill more people.

The Spanish Flu pandemic, which circled the globe roughly four times in 1918 and 1919, killed an estimated 675,000 Americans before it fizzled out. An estimated 100,000 more Americans are expected to die between now and the end of 2021, based on modelling from the University of Washington, meaning the U.S. death toll will likely be around 776,000 by January 1, 2022.

The U.S. started with a tremendous lead on the rest of the world early in 2021 with one of the best vaccination rates, along with the UK and Israel. But American vaccinations against covid-19 have largely plateaued, with other countries around the world pulling ahead in recent months.

The U.S. had the 18th best covid-19 vaccination rate in the world back in July but fell to 40th place as of last week. Just 55.36% of Americans have been fully vaccinated, according to Johns Hopkins University.

Photo: Associated Press, AP

Photo: Associated Press, AP

Influenza victims in emergency hospital at Camp Funston, Fort Riley, Kansas, 1918.

Photo: Library of Congress, AP

Photo: Library of Congress, AP

In this 1918-1919 photo made available by the Library of Congress, a conductor checks to see if potential passengers are wearing masks in Seattle, Wash.

Photo: Library of Congress, AP

Photo: Library of Congress, AP

This photo made available by the Library of Congress shows a demonstration at the Red Cross Emergency Ambulance Station in Washington during the influenza pandemic of 1918.

Photo: Library of Congress, AP

Photo: Library of Congress, AP

In this November 1918 photo made available by the Library of Congress, a nurse takes the pulse of a patient in the influenza ward of the Walter Reed hospital in Washington.

Photo: Library of Congress, AP

Photo: Library of Congress, AP

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Photo: Hulton Archive, Getty Images

Photo: Hulton Archive, Getty Images

Court is held outdoors in a park due to the Influenza Epidemic, San Francisco, 1918.

Photo: Hulton Archive, Getty Images

Photo: Hulton Archive, Getty Images

Women from the Department of War take 15-minute walks to breathe in fresh air every morning and night to ward off the influenza virus during World War I, c. 1918.

Photo: Archive Photos, Getty Images

Photo: Archive Photos, Getty Images

The congregation praying on the steps of the Cathedral of Saint Mary of the Assumption, where they gathered to hear mass and pray during the influenza epidemic, San Francisco, California.

The U.S. South has the worst vaccination rates in the country, with states like Alabama suffering some of the worst death rates as a percentage of population in recent months. Alabama reported 1,920 new cases of covid-19 on Monday alone and has a seven-day rolling average of 76 deaths each day. Only 41.63% of Alabama’s population is fully vaccinated.

More people in Alabama died than were born in 2020, all thanks to the covid-19 pandemic, a grim figure that’s a first in the state’s recorded history. The state recorded 64,714 deaths from all causes in 2020, and 57,641 births, according to NPR.

But there wasn’t a vaccine for most of 2020. There’s a freely available vaccine to fight the covid-19 pandemic and if you haven’t gotten it yet, you really should. We don’t have any excuses anymore.