People back in the 1968/69 were much calmer about flu compared to the high levels of anxiety seen in connection with Covid-19. Perhaps they were used to dealing with illnesses like measles and mumps and perhaps it was due to the absence of social media that has arguably been a conduit for spreading hysteria.

The Asian flu, now referred to as the H3N2 virus is still prevalent as a seasonal illness. It is only a matter of time before Covid-19 joins this strain of flu as something else people need to deal with each year. Let's hope we manage to do this without panicking and launching drastic social programs that come with enormous costs to our health, economy and general well being.

Some interesting points about the 1967/69 pandemic:

  • December 1968 Mission control worried that the Apollo crew may have contracted the Flu

  • Spread of the flu was aided by growing mass air travel, and troops brought it back to America on their return from the Vietnam War.

  • Like Covid-19, most people survived the Asian flu, and it was deemed a relatively mild disease normally healthy people would recover from after several days.

  • The Asian flu did not stop people going to work, there was no social distancing, and mass transit continued as usual.

  • The economy slowed but did not fall into recession

  • The then UK government ordered 900,000 doses of vaccines to be ready by the end of the year

  • By the start of 1969 the tide was turning on the flu and demand for vaccines fell, British drug companies had built up huge stocks and began exporting them

  • Asian flu resurfaced in a second wave at the end of 1969, which ended up being deadlier than the first By spring 1970, Asian flu had killed 80,000 people in the UK.