As the world grapples with COVID-19, we can draw lessons from steps taken to combat the H1N1 flu pandemic
When the 39-year-old woman in Oaxaca, Mexico, died, doctors chalked it up to severe atypical pneumonia. But the lab tests later confirmed she was the victim of a new, unknown coronavirus.
This might sound like something from today’s headlines, but the coronavirus that killed Adela Maria Gutierrez in April 2009 was not COVID-19 but a new strain of swine flu. Also known as H1N1, that epidemic resulted in the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people.
Today, as the world struggles with the almost unthinkable effects of another novel coronavirus, COVID-19, authorities should draw lessons from history. The specific behaviors and treatments of H1N1 represented uncharted territory, and to conquer it, the world needed to first understand how many people were infected, how quickly the virus spread and whether countermeasures like social distancing and closing schools were effective.
That probably sounds familiar.