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Why is COVID outlasting the Spanish Flu?

Masks stay in place as airline exec compares COVID restrictions to unending 9-11 measures

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Eliyahu Tulshinski

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Eliyahu Tulshinski

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Focusing on the influence of socialism on public health policy.

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February 03, 2022

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02:24 PM

Why is COVID outlasting the Spanish Flu?

The Chief Financial Officer of Ryanair, Europe’s largest airline, Neil Sorahan, predicts face covering mandates on flights will continue in effect for years to come. The Telegraph quotes Sorahan as saying:

“Masks will be something that will be with us for a while longer to come. If that is the price we have to pay for the next few months, into summer – it’s a small price to pay.”

The CFO went on to compare the permanence of COVID measures to those following the 9-11 terror attack.  He said, “It’s a bit like after 9/11, we ended up with our toiletries in plastic bags, maybe we’ll have to live with masks for a while longer.”

Surpassing the two-year Spanish flu?

The Spanish flu pandemic ran its course in 26 months, from March 1918 to April 1920. COVID-19, with its origin dated to November 2019, has now entered its 27th month, and unlike the waning of the Spanish flu, its cases actually continued peaking after two years.

What's more, UC Berkeley virologist Bryan Ellison noted that the unique environment in which the Spanish flu found its virulence is not likely to be repeated in a world free from food rations, carpet bombings, and millions of soldiers sleeping in frozen, mud-filled bunkers in the snow and rain.

“Host resistance can fully explain the 1918 epidemic. That flu came near the end of the first World War, when all sides were becoming too exhausted to keep fighting. It was just months before the surrender of the Central Powers, and the war’s toll, in terms of destruction and human misery, had become overwhelming to soldiers and civilians alike. A special virus wasn’t needed to create that terrible flu epidemic.”  According to Ellison, “If released today, the same 1918 flu virus wouldn’t cause any special epidemic at all. The virus wasn’t any different from any other flu virus; it was the time, not the virus, that produced the epidemic.”

Whether or not the Spanish flu was truly no more dangerous than other flu viruses, the conditions for a breakdown in “host resistance” are certainly not seen in the United States today. 

Chilling predictions

This makes it all the more curious that Dr. Anthony Fauci predicted with confidence in 2017, after some 100 years passed without anything like the Spanish flu, that such a once-in-a-century event would occur in an America at peace and enjoying relative affluence.  Fauci said, 

"If there's one message that I want to leave with you today... is that there is no question that there will be a challenge to the coming administration in the arena of infectious diseases.  Both chronic infectious diseases in the sense of already ongoing disease, and we have certainly a large burden of that, but also there will be a surprise outbreak.”

The conference at which Dr Fauci spoke was even named, “Pandemic Preparedness in the Next U.S. Presidential Administration.”

Likewise, the October 2019 Event 201 Pandemic Exercise, hosted by the World Economic Forum, “simulates an outbreak of a novel zoonotic coronavirus transmitted from bats to pigs to people that eventually becomes efficiently transmissible from person to person, leading to a severe pandemic … with 65 million deaths.” 

No end in sight

Even more curious than the prediction of the imminence of an upcoming rare event may be the predictions that this rare event will last far longer than the previous rare event (the two year Spanish flu), despite the absence of war like conditions. 

Already at the beginning of the mass vaccination program, in March 2021, the public was prepared for an extended pandemic as reported in a CBS News article entitled “COVID-19 is never going to end, experts say”. According to the article, 

“… public health experts say … COVID-19 is never going to end. It now seems poised to become an endemic disease — one that is always a part of our environment, no matter what we do.

"’We've been told that this virus will disappear. But it will not,’ Dr. William Schaffner, a professor at the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine and medical director of the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases, tells CBS News.

"’We need to control it. We need to diminish its impact. But it's going to be around hassling us for the foreseeable future. And by that I mean — years.’"

By “control it” and “diminish its impact,” Dr. Schaffner was letting us know that, together with an extended pandemic, would come extended restrictions. 

Ryanair agrees, and will let you know if you plan to fly with them.

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