U-M Medical Historian Says It Appears History Is Repeating Itself In Our Current Pandemic

Apr 12, 2021

Dr. J. Alexander Navarro, assistant director of the University of Michigan's Center for the History of Medicine.
Credit University of Michigan's Center for the History of Medicine / chm.umich.edu

Over a hundred years since the pandemic of 1918, our current public health crisis is happening in a very similar manner to what happened then... killing hundreds of thousands of people.

Lisa Barry talks with the Assistant Director of the Center for the History of Medicine at the University of Michigan, Dr. Alex Navarro, about how what's happening now compares to what happened back then.


Dr. Alex Navarro says politics and a resistance to vaccines and public health advisories are causing several surges of the virus, including in Michigan.

Dr. Navarro says the 1918 pandemic is still the single deadliest pandemic in recorded human history but adds we are currently, potentially, on track for the current COVID-19 pandemic to surpass that in the United States.

He says we needed to be even more careful then they were in 1918, and we haven’t been--at least since last spring--as careful as we should have been.

He says as long as some people resist wearing a mask or following public health advisories, it will be difficult to reach herd immunity that will greatly reduce the rate of cases in the community.

Dr. Navarro says it appears the worst of our current pandemic will likely come to an end in the next few months.

For more information, you can read Dr. Navarro's article in The Conversation here.

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— Lisa Barry is the host of All Things Considered on WEMU. You can contact Lisa at 734.487.3363, on Twitter @LisaWEMU, or email her at lbarryma@emich.edu