70,000 to 116,000 Americans died in the 1957 Asian Flu pandemic. It was one of the three influenza pandemics of the 20th century. It was the second worst pandemic.
“With this knowledge, Hilleman put out press releases announcing a new flu pandemic had arrived, and would reach the United States by September 1957. Though he met some resistance, he successfully convinced companies to begin working on flu vaccines to have ready by then. Fertilized chicken eggs would be necessary for this production, so he told the companies to remind farmers not to kill their roosters at the end of hatching season.
Making a vaccine for a new flu strain is very different from making a vaccine for something completely new like COVID-19, the novel coronavirus that emerged in 2019. Doctors and scientists first developed viable flu vaccines in the 1940s, so they were not starting from scratch when they went to work on the 1957 flu vaccine. Still, Hilleman bypassed regulatory agencies in his efforts to push the vaccine forward because he worried those agencies would slow the process down.
When the new flu strain hit the United States in September, just as Hilleman had predicted it would, the country was ready with a vaccine. The virus, dubbed the “Asian flu,” killed an estimated 70,000 to 116,000 Americans and one to four million people worldwide, but experts suggest it would have killed many more if not for the vaccine. Around the time Hilleman was born, the “Spanish flu” of 1918 to 1919 killed an estimated 675,000 Americans and 50 million people worldwide. …”
We were a different country back then.
By the time the virus arrived in the United States, we already had a vaccine for it. We landed on the moon a little over a decade later. It was around that time that the U.S. Surgeon General declared victory over infectious diseases. Now, we don’t go to space anymore. We don’t believe in vaccines.
Note: By the end of the month, COVID-19 will surpass the death toll of the 1968 pandemic. By mid-June, the death toll will surpass the 1957 pandemic. In three months.