Saturday, April 25, 2020

Been Talking to Oldsters

Trying to get a feel for this Covid thingy and the Hong Kong Flu from when I was a wee infant.

HK killed 100,000 Americans.  But that's 150,000 if you account for population inflation.

Mom and dad both got it.  It was miserable, they say.  I don't remember their reactions from that time.

C19 won't kill that many.  Probably.  Maybe 60,000 with this Influenze Like Illness (ILI)?

"So that makes Hong Kong much worse than the 'Rona, right, T-Bolt."

Yes and no.  If Covid 19 emerged in 1969, and Hong Kong Flu first appeared in 2019, would Covid only take out 40,000 folks and HK flu hit 150,000?  I doubt it.  Circumstances are totally different.

In 1969 we had a redux of wartime personnel moving around that you also saw in 1918.  It was probably the vector for the disease to get into this country.  And there were fewer treatment option.  Not just chloroquine, but all the anti-virals and better drugs for pneumonia we have today (which were better in 69 than they were for the 57 Asian flu pandemic... and so on).  So, any bad virus in 1969 means bad outcomes.  And today we are fighting it different; movement and large gatherings restrictions alone means a world of difference.  I doubt HK flu today would be as devastating.  Even without societal restriction, what with no big war and better treatment.

What I am hoping REALLY doesn't repeat is the bad outcomes from the HK flu era vaccine that was rushed out in the mid 70s.  For a nasty swine flu.  Some folks had been wary of  vaccines since the invention of the vaccine 200 years prior, but this one causing Guillain-Barre in some people, 45 years ago, certainly didn't hinder the emergence of the modern anti-vax movement.  And worries about a repeat of similar side-effects makes it hard to convince pharmaceutical companies today to get into the vaccine game.


Aside:  Been reading up on family histories.  My grandfather was 12 for the Spanish Flu, and I'd love to ask him his memories, but all I have are his typed records.  He lived in Carthage New York, and his best friend's father died of it "like so many other Carthagenians."  I remember no other family lore about 1918's pandemic.


Mike V said...

My parents and I had the Hong Kong Flu in 1968. We were sick as dogs for a week. Fever, diarrhea, and throwing up a lot. I was 12 and it was brutal. It was the only time my Dad ever missed a week of work sick from illness.

Eck! said...

Well it will likely kill a lot more than 60K. Hell were past 53K and climbing. It will pass 60K by maybe tuesday.

I was 15 with HKflu and it sucked with a vengence. I remember 4 days of 102+ fever.

I also got the one floating around in 1980 three week before I could return to work pushing desk!

This scares me all to hell.