VOX — Exactly one year ago, on January 11, the first death from a confirmed case of Covid-19 was reported in China.
Today, the US is inching toward 400,000 confirmed deaths, the world toward 2 million. With alarming milestone after alarming milestone, the temptation grows to compare Covid-19 to the other horrific pandemics of history. It is not as bad, of course, as the 1918 flu pandemic, or as the notorious Black Death. But it has long surpassed the death toll of SARS (2002-2004), MERS (2012, 2015, and 2018), the 1957-58 and 1968-1970 pandemic influenzas, and the 2009 swine flu. By sheer number of casualties, Covid-19 ranks among the 10 deadliest plagues in history.
Some have taken a stab at putting the pandemic in historical context. At the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, the Washington Post visualized the devastating plagues of history, with Covid-19 by comparison a tiny dot. (By today, tragically, it’d be a much bigger dot.) This vivid graphic ranks Covid-19 the ninth deadliest in history.