Section 1, Lesson 1
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Pandemics Basics and COVID-19 Copy

What is a pandemic? 

According to the CDC, an influenza pandemic is a global outbreak of a new influenza A virus that is very different from current and recently circulating human seasonal influenza A viruses. Influenza A viruses are constantly changing, making it possible for non-human influenza viruses to change so that they can infect people easily and spread efficiently from person to person. 

This lesson will summarize pandemics with a brief history of the 1918 influenza pandemic known as the Spanish flu and the COVID-19 pandemic. There are two videos in this lesson. 

The first video will define and explain pandemics and how a new virus gets spread worldwide. 

Watch the video:

Pandemics and COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic is a pandemic of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). It was first identified in December 2019, in Wuhan, China. The World Health Organization (WHO) declared COVID-19 a Public Health Emergency of International Concern in January 2020 and a pandemic in March 2020. This second video will discuss more about pandemics and, specifically, the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Watch the video:

Key takeaways:
  • A pandemic is the worldwide spread of a new disease. It is very different from a seasonal human illness. It can spread from person to person and is highly contagious.  
  • An influenza pandemic occurs when a new influenza virus emerges and spreads around the world. 
  • During a pandemic, initially, very few people will have immunity, and the new virus will make many people sick. 
  • The 1918 pandemic spread around the world, resulting in nearly ⅓ of the U.S. population becoming infected. 
  • The COVID-19 pandemic is a respiratory disease caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus that has affected all aspects of our lives, including travel, financial markets, food supplies, and business operations.  
  • For more information on the history of pandemics, visit the CDC website. 

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