The 1918 Spanish flu outbreak killed more people than both world wars. Don’t imagine such a thing could never happen again
This year marks a century since some women got the vote; a century since the end of the first world war; 50 years since the 1968 revolts; 70 since the founding of Israel and the NHS. All have been well marked. So it is striking that the centenary of one of the most devastating events in human history has been allowed to pass thus far with almost no public reflection of any kind.
This year is the 100th anniversary of the Spanish flu pandemic of 1918. Estimates about its impact vary. But when you read that a third of the entire global population probably caught the Spanish flu and that it killed between 50 and 100 million people in all corners of the globe – up to 5% of all human beings on the planet at the time – you get an inkling of its scale.