A century before coronavirus, the economic lessons from Spanish Flu

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Along with the medical and health fears over the current coronavirus outbreak, there are also growing concerns about the economic impact of a pandemic on the world. In 1918 and 1919, at the end of World War I, the so-called 'Spanish Influenza' killed close to 18 million people. Yet the impact it had on the world economy at the time is poorly understood. Mediapart's Romaric Godin examines what lessons the deadly Spanish flu outbreak might hold for us today.

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On October 11th 1918 the city morgues in Philadelphia were overflowing. The day before 759 people had died from the Spanish Influenza or Spanish Flu which had been ravaging the city and other parts of the United States for more than a month. Bodies were piled up in the corridors and the city had to make use of improvised communal graves to bury the unfortunate victims.