From SARS and HIV/AIDS to Spanish Flu and cholera outbreak: A list of deadliest pandemics in the past 200 years

The World Health Organization (WHO) has designated the Covid-19 outbreak, a pandemic. Since its origin in December, the disease has spread to over 150 countries, infecting 252,731 and killing 10,405.

SARS-CoV-2/COVID-19 Wikimedia Commons

With uncertain times ahead, here is a list of pandemics that wreaked havoc in past 200 years:

Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) (2003)

First discovered in China, the disease reportedly traces its origin to bats and is zoonotic in nature, according to WHO. The disease spread to 26 countries, infecting 8,096 people and killing 774. SARS is caused by a different strain of coronavirus. Just as in the case of Covid-19 outbreak, China was accused of suppressing initial information regarding SARS as well.

HIV/AIDS (1976)

The deadly disease, which presently affects 5% of sub-Saharan Africa's population, originated in the 1980s. As many as 36 million people have succumbed to the viral disease since then. The disease weakens the body's immune system, resulting in it being unable to ward off common diseases.

Hong Kong Flu (1968)

The disease originated in 1968 in Hong Kong and within two weeks, spread to Singapore and Vietnam. Within three months, it spread to neighboring India and the Philippines and spread as far as Australia, the US and Europe. Caused by H3N2 strain of influenza A virus, the disease has a fatality rate of a mere 0.5%, but at the height of its outbreak, claimed 500,000 lives in Hong Kong, which constituted 15% of its population.

Asian Flu (1956-1958)

Originating in the Chinese province of Guizhou in 1956, the virus spread to Hong Kong, Singapore and United States. In the two-year span of its outbreak, the disease claimed around 1.1 million lives.

Spanish Flu Pandemic (1918)

The deadly pandemic infected a third of the world's population, claiming more than 20 million lives. Although the origin of the disease is contested, the disease was caused by an H1N1 virus with an avian (bird) origin, according to CDC.

Sixth Cholera Pandemic (1910-1911)

Originating in India in 1910, the disease spread to the Middle East, North Africa, eastern Europe and Russia. Within a span of two years, it wiped out 800,000 of the world's population.

Russian Flu Pandemic (1889-1890)

Caused by H3N8 sub-type of influenza A virus, the disease was first observed in May 1989 in three distant locations: Bukhara in Central Asia (Uzbekistan), Athabasca in northwestern Canada, and Greenland. In a two-year span, the disease claimed over a million lives.

Third Cholera Pandemic (1852-1860)

Having originated in India in 1852, the disease quickly spread in Asia, Europe, Africa and North America. The source of the disease that claimed over a million lives, was identified to be contaminated water.