Fears of the coronavirus are affecting the travel plans of over 46 million people worldwide and Chinese officials, where the outbreak started, are worried that the disease is spreading

China’s President Xi Jinping stressed the urgency of controlling the outbreak, which is confirmed to have infected hundreds just since Friday. The number of infected people, at the time of writing this article, has risen to more than 1,300; the number of confirmed deaths is 41.

The world has been getting better at identifying pandemics and stopping the spread of disease throughout the world. But it hasn’t always been that way. And even in the 20th century, certain outbreaks killed millions of people. 

But first…what is the difference between an epidemic and a pandemic? An epidemic is a disease that can affect many people but is generally confined to one area of the world. A pandemic is an epidemic that goes world-wide. 

The following is a list of some of the deadliest pandemics in our history:

HIV/AIDS Pandemic 1981-2012:

The first reported cases of HIV/AIDS (human immunodeficiency virus/ acquired immunodeficiency syndrome) were reported in 1981. But by the early 2000s, the number of people infected had grown to nearly 65 million making it a true pandemic.

Nearly 25 million of these infected people died, and during 2005 alone about 2.8 million people died of AIDS. The pandemic is worst in Sub-Sahara Africa. About 10 percent of the world’s population lives there, however about 64 percent of the world’s HIV infected people live there.  

Flu Pandemic of  1918:

One of the worst pandemics of human history began in January of 1918 and ran through December 1920. The H1N1 flu virus was known at the time as the Spanish Flu as censors during World War I wanted to play down the effect the disease was having on people in the military.