We don’t know yet since it’s still going on. The U.S. COVID-19 death toll thus far is around 50,000, with New York and New Jersey accounting for 40% of the total.
But for future reference…
The 2017-2018 flu season was a particularly lethal one.
CDC estimates that the burden of illness during the 2017–2018 season was high with an estimated 45 million people getting sick with influenza, 21 million people going to a health care provider, 810,000 hospitalizations, and 61,000 deaths from influenza (Table 1). The number of cases of influenza-associated illness that occurred during 2017-2018 was the highest since the 2009 H1N1 pandemic, when an estimated 60 million people were sick with influenza.
Remember the H1N1 flu pandemic of 2009-2010? Most folks don’t. I don’t. And like now, I was a full-time hospitalist then.
From April 12, 2009 to April 10, 2010, CDC estimated there were 60.8 million cases (range: 43.3-89.3 million), 274,304 hospitalizations (range: 195,086-402,719), and 12,469 deaths (range: 8868-18,306) in the United States due to the (H1N1)pdm09 virus.
The 1968 Hong Kong (H3N2) flu pandemic:
The estimated number of deaths was 1 million worldwide and about 100,000 in the United States. Most excess deaths were in people 65 years and older.
The 1957-1958 Asian flu (H2N2) pandemic:
The estimated number of deaths was 1.1 million worldwide and 116,000 in the United States. [U.S. population in 1957 was 172 million, half what it is now.]
One difference between those flu epidemics and COVID-19 is that the flu deaths were spread out over more months.
Did we quarantine the entire citizenry during those flu epidemics and paralyze the economy? No.
Are we a nation of pansies now?
Steve Parker, M.D.
PS: I’m not sure if AIDS was ever classified as an epidemic. But between 1985 and 2013, about 675,000 people in the U.S. died of or with AIDS.