UA-142647510-2 Pandemic Panic (Part 4) - Realities of the Spanish Flu

Episode 45

This time on Conspiracy Theoryology, we wrap up on discussion of the Spanish Flu, exploring the medical knowledge of the time, what we now know to be true, and some other influences and conditions that may have attributed to the most lethal viral outbreak of the 20th century, and, in light of our recent events, how it really compares to the first truly global pandemic panic of the 21st century.

The Spanish flu pandemic was certainly deadly but it did not kill 50 million people. Not without the help of its friends. You know, famine, malnutrition, and world war 1. Horrible roommates, all of them. 

Up until this year, the effort to hyperbolize severity of the Spanish flu has been extremely popular, because fear is a great motivator. And that motivation ya been very profitable for the pharmaceutical industry for 40 year. The bogeyman of annual flu has led the charge into a vaccination mindset that makes a lot of money for the industry and gives a great deal of power to those that wield political influence. 

Unfortunately, that same exaggeration is now yielding its fruits, and has caused the public to react in an irrational manner to the Covid19 pandemic. And when I say public, I mean everyone. Both sides of the opinion spectrum. 

So, you have probably noticed that there was a large gap between part 3 of this series and this episode. In truth, I didn’t know how to frame this discussion, in light of current events. Up until March of 2020, research on the Spanish flu was academic and historical. There was very little reference to any modern context other than the oft repeated phrase “It’s not of, but when.”  A very convenient phrase to use to maintain fear and worry, without having to actually provide any real information proving the statement. 

Now, though, I challenge you to go to your search engine of choice and find information on Spanish flu. The first page of results will undoubtedly be filled with recent articles comparing the Spanish flu to COVID 19. The two events have become entwined. I cannot present historical factors of Spanish flu, without now providing context for viewing the current pandemic. Likewise, we can better understand the true behavior of the Spanish flu pandemic given a current framework with which to compare.  To not do either of those things would be as irresponsible as those that have made the point to draw extreme views through comparison of the two events. That said, let’s first understand the death toll of the Spanish flu. After we explore the many factors that influenced the mortality rate, we can wrap up this discussion talking COVID. 


Several Factors influenced and bolstered the severity of the pandemic. First being the approach to calculate the mortality impact. The number has grown steadily since early estimates in the 1990s. 20MM to 50MM in 2005, to upwards of 100MM (5% of the global population). But a reassessment in 2018 put a more realistic number at 15-17MM.


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