Locating coronavirus pandemic in the context of 19th century pandemics
The 19th century saw millions of people across the world die because of infectious diseases travelling from one country to the other along the trade routes using faster modes of transportation. The century also saw epoch-defining innovations and scientific progress in the field of medicine and healthcare. So, looking at the present pandemic in the context of 19th century diseases is a lot of fun. Hop on!
The history of epidemics is as old as civilisation itself. Between 165-180 AD, when the Antonine Plague (possiblly a smallpox or measles outbreak) killed some five million people across Europe and Asia; In India, our ancestors had come up with the artistic expession of South Asia’s first "epidemic" goddess, Hariti. Since that point, we find either clear or metaphorical metions of epidemics and pestilence every culture and tradition.
Earlier, we looked into how the spread of current COVID-19 pandemic and the responses to it resemble many other pademics of the past, while retaining the uniqueness of the present (the contingent element). In this piece we try to locate the present crisis in the context of 19th Century pandemics like Cholera (which came in six devastating instalments) and the third plague pandemic.
Helping us putting things in perspective is Manikarnika Dutta, a medical history researcher and a DPhil scholar at the University of Oxford.
Watch the full video here: