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Will a pandemic ever kill millions again?

The 1918-19 Spanish Flu pandemic killed between 50-100 million people worldwide. Could another pandemic be as devastating?

The Coronavirus outbreak in China has been declared a public health emergency of international concern. It is raising fears of a global disease pandemic.
In the past viral infections have killed millions. Possibly the worst ever pandemic was the 1918-19 flu, which spread just as the First World War was coming to an end. Estimates of the death toll now range between 50 and 100 million. At the upper range that means it was more deadly than both World Wars put together. So could another pandemic emerge today and kill millions? How might it happen and how prepared are we to confront it?

The world is a very different place to 100 years ago. Scientific and public health advances do mean some parts of the world are more prepared but our ways of living could make us more susceptible to a new virus.

Speaking to a leading virologist, a disease modeller, a public health policy expert and a senior African health official, Ben Chu asks where the virus threat might come from, how fast it could spread, what containment policies work and whether the world is ready.

Presenter: Ben Chu
Producer: John Murphy

(image: Scientist working with a dangerous virus in the laboratory. Credit: Getty Creative)

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23 minutes

Last on

Mon 17 Feb 2020 09:06GMT


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