With the growing number of travel bans, visa restrictions and large scale quarantines, it is safe to say that the world is now in a state of panic with respect to the coronavirus outbreak that has resulted in over 2900 casualties worldwide. The virus has spread to 60 countries and affected tens of thousands of people across the globe. The epicenter of the virus, however, is the Hubei province of China where the maximum damage has been caused.
But coronavirus is not the first disease outbreak that has led to large scale deaths. On several occasions in history, outbreaks have killed many thousands of people in the world. Sometimes even millions.
Here are some of the historical pandemics that led to millions of deaths across the globe.
The Black Death (1346-1353)
The Black Death, also known as the Great Plague, was one of the most devastating pandemics in human history, resulting in the deaths of an estimated 75 to 200 million people in Eurasia, peaking in Europe from 1347 to 1351. The Black Death is estimated to have killed 30% to 60% of Europe's population. In total, the plague may have reduced the world population from an estimated 475 million to 350–375 million in the 14th century.
Spanish Flu (1918)
The 1918 influenza pandemic, Spanish Flu, was an unusually deadly influenza pandemic, the first of the two pandemics involving H1N1 influenza virus, with the second being the swine flu in 2009. It infected 500 million people around the world, or about 27% of the then world population of between 1.8 and 1.9 billion, including people on isolated Pacific islands and in the Arctic. The death toll is estimated to have been 40 million to 50 million, and possibly as high as 100 million, making it one of the deadliest epidemics in human history.
Human immunodeficiency virus infection and acquired immune deficiency syndrome (HIV/AIDS) is a spectrum of conditions caused by infection with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). In 2012, 1.6 million people died from AIDS-related causes worldwide compared to 2.3 million in 2005. Since the start of the epidemic an estimated 36 million people have died of AIDS-related illnesses.
Plague of Justinian (541-542 AD)
The Plague of Justinian (541–542 AD) was a pandemic that afflicted the Byzantine (Eastern Roman) Empire and especially its capital, Constantinople, as well as the Sasanian Empire and port cities around the entire Mediterranean Sea, as merchant ships harbored rats that carried fleas infected with the plague. Some historians believe the plague of Justinian was one of the deadliest pandemics in history, resulting in the deaths of an estimated 25–50 million people during two centuries of recurrence, a death toll equivalent to 13–26% of the world's population at the time of the first outbreak.
Antonine plague (165-180 AD)
The Antonine Plague of 165 to 180 AD, also known as the Plague of Galen, was an ancient pandemic brought back to the Roman Empire by troops returning from campaigns in the Near East. Scholars have suspected it to have been either smallpox or measles, but the true cause remains undetermined. The epidemic may have claimed the life of a Roman emperor, Lucius Verus, who died in 169 C.E and was the co-regent of Marcus Aurelius Antoninus, whose family name, Antoninus, has become associated with the epidemic. The disease broke out again nine years later, according to the Roman historian Dio Cassius (155–235), causing up to 2,000 deaths a day in Rome, one-quarter of those who were affected, giving the disease a mortality rate of about 25%. The total deaths have been estimated at five million, and the disease killed as much as one-third of the population in some areas and devastated the Roman army.