Pandemics in History

When the global pandemic hit in 2020, I remember hearing comparisons between prior diseases left and right; mostly pertaining to the Swine Flu, the Spanish Flu, and the more extreme end, the Black Plague. These diseases are more prevalent in the Western Hemisphere’s common consciousness, but there are many other pandemics that have populated the Western Hemisphere, and the lesser known being contained to the Western Hemisphere’s southern half. In Lowell’s piece “From Columbus to Covid-19: Amerindian Antecedents to the Global Pandemic” he focuses on 4 geographical settings: Hispaniola, Mexico, Guatemala, and Ecuador. He reflects on how these pandemics and the current Covid-19, but more importantly, the way in which the pandemics have spread at the same rate, even though the world is better equipped to handle today than they were in 1492.

One of the big differences between those pandemics of the past and the current is the way in which it was brought about. Each of the plagues discussed in the essay were diseases brought by the colonizers that conquered the areas, instead of the way in which Covid-19 was brought about.

The newfound diseases of the Anthropocene are just one component of many that have come about in consequence of the era. With more people packing closer and closer together, diseases have much more affluent transmission rates, and even though Coronavirus is still relatively new compared to the prior pandemics, the globalization that has occurred as a symptom of the Anthropocene has led to rapid and sometimes lethal spreading. Just like climate change, humans have had to deal with increasingly more and increasingly complex issues, and the global pandemic is just one of many. The comparison of the pandemics serves as a forewarning to world leaders to what could be the end result if it goes ignored. 

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