What is a pandemic?

A pandemic is:

- A global outbreak of a disease

- Typically a new disease that has never infected people before

- An outbreak where people do not have immunity to the new virus

We have learned that many lessons from past pandemics, including:

- Social distancing works

- Viruses can affect all age groups, even young people

- The 1918 influenza showed that large movements of people can quickly spread the virus

- Depression, anxiety and panic attacks increased during SARS outbreak

- Quarantining during the SARS outbreak was associated with high depressive symptoms

We have also learned from that stigmatization can arise during a pandemic. Unfortunately, people tend to place blame on those who get sick. For example, during the HIV/AIDS epidemic, blame was disproportionately put on homosexual people. Another example is the SARS pandemic, where blame was mistakenly put on Chinese people.


Do you want to learn more about past pandemics? Check out these videos for more information on pandemics like the Spanish flu, and how these events have helped us prepare to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic.