I recently learned that I was, in fact, born in a plague year, 1957, during the early stages of the “Asian Flu” pandemic. (I’ll have more to say about this naming convention in a moment.) Estimates on mortality in the US range from a low of 70,000 to a high of 116,000. (Information on the H2N2 pandemic may be found HERE.) After some 12 weeks (rather than the 12+ months during which H2N2 ravaged the world) COVID-19 is already at the upper limit of that earlier pandemic.i With the inevitable second wave of infections and deaths that will come with the push to reopen the country regardless of consequences; with sloppy and unevenly applied testing, almost non-existent contact tracing; and with the monumental infantilism of people who believe their right to be slobbering, self-absorbed imbeciles trumps your right to live, the death toll from the SARS-CoV-2 virus will easily surpass that of H2N2 by the middle of summer. (And, let’s face it: that is a conservative estimate.)
A word about that “Asian flu” moniker: It was common to name diseases after a place, sometimes even the place where the disease was first located or even came from. This rule has always been applied unevenly; for instance, the “Spanish Flu” pandemic most certainly did NOT originate in Spain. So why aren’t we calling SARS-CoV-2 the “Wuhan virus,” or COVID-19 the “Chinese disease”? One is almost inclined to admire the willful stupidity of persons pretending puzzlement over these questions, since the answer is so manifestly obvious: because doing so is blatantly racist and serves no other purpose than to function as a dog-whistle trigger for low-lifes such as the pond-scum comprising Donald Trump’s political base. One might as well complain that, “My grandfarther used to call black people by the ‘n’ word, and address them as ‘boy’! Why shouldn’t I be allowed to do that now, since it was so commonplace back then?” The naming convention for the disease has already been established, so no excuse other than racism can be offered for changing it in such a way as to blame a certain ethnic group. And let’s face it, even if SARS-CoV-2 is too tricky for their poor, pea-puddin’ racist brains to remember, terms like “novel coronavirus” and “COVID-19” are simple enough that even a remedial 3rd grader can learn and use them properly, all with little or no effort.
Jon Awbrey said:
Incidentally, just got this in my newsletter from the Smithsonian —
☞ How the U.S. Fought the 1957 Flu Pandemic
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Gary Herstein said:
Very cool! Thanks for passing that along.