Review of pandemics brings perspective to COVID-19

Mar 25, 2020

From the H1N1 outbreak of 2009 to the Influenza of 1918, there are lessons available as health officials and the general public deal with the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Shauna Zorich, Clinical Assistant Professor in the Department of Epidemiology and Environmental Health at UB's School of Public Health and Health Professions, has studied the data. In 2009, H1N1 resulted in "one death per 5,000 persons affected."  As for COVID-19, Zorich said the Case Fatality Risk "is significantly higher than the Case Fatality Risk among 2009  H1N1 pandemic patients."

Dr. Shauna Zorich is a clinical assistant professor in UB's Department of Epidemiology and Environmental Health.
Credit University at Buffalo

Zorich also points out how pandemics have impacted various populations in different ways. For example, younger people were affected in greater numbers by H1N1 in 2009 while COVID-19 seems to hitting older adults. 

"Mortality figures that are being reported on the Novel Coronavirus are based on our current understanding of the pandemic and they're going to change as the pandemic progresses. Especially due to the fact that many countries are still in the early phase of the pandemic experience."

While she has a grasp of the past, Zorich isn't offering any predictions for  the weeks and months ahead.

"What I can say is that I think it's really important that we adhere to the restrictions and regulations that are being placed on us so we can save lives."