Salut, Covid-19, Vacunes

The Spanish flu did not kill only those who were vaccinated because there was no vaccine against the disease

You have sent us an article about the so-called Spanish flu pandemic of 1918, ensuring that only those people vaccinated against the virus died. This is FALSE. During the sanitary crisis which impacted the world a century ago, no vaccine had been developed against the respiratory disease. As explained by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the respiratory illness was combat “without vaccines to protect against infection by influenza and without antibiotics to treat secondary bacterial infections that could be associated with influenza infections”. Hence, it is not true that only those people immunised by inoculation died.

"Only those vaccinated died: The macabre hoax of the 1918 Spanish flu"

Despite there is no consensus about the origin of the virus, the first cases were detected in March 1918, coinciding with the last period of the First World War. More than 100 soldiers stationed at Fort Riley, a military camp base in Kansas (central United States), got a viral disease very similar to a flu, caused by H1N1 virus. After a week, cases had increased fivefold. The disease spread easily throughout Europe because each month the US government sent thousands of soldiers to combat at the front. In total, the CDC calculates that between 1918 and 1919 about 500 million people got infected worldwide -one third of the population- and at least 50 million people died. ONU, on its side, estimates that the flu caused between 40 and 50 million deaths.

During the years of the pandemic, no vaccine to fight against this flu had been developed, as can be seen in the official list of approved vaccines between 1798 and 1998 by the US health authorities. At that time, only formulas against smallpox, rabies, typhus, cholera and plague had been developed. The CDC considers the rapid spread and the lethality of the flu to be due to “the vulnerability of healthy young boys and the lack of vaccines and treatments”. The pandemic was controlled with isolations, quaranties, personal hygiene measures, use of disinfectants and the imposition of limits to public meetings.

The variant causing the Spanish flu has mutated along the years since becoming the current H1N1 virus, known as the influenza A. Advances in science have allowed proof that the drug oseltamivir, which is orally taken, would be effective against 1918 H1N1, according to the CDC. According to this institution, vaccines tested in mice against 100-year-old variant of the virus were effective. “It is expected that vaccination with vaccines against current seasonal influenza provides a degree of protection among human beings, since vaccines against seasonal influenza provided some protection level against the 1918 H1N1 virus in mice”, explained in his web.

Why is it called Spanish flu?

The 1918 pandemic was christened “Spanish flu” because the media in Spain were the first to inform about the detection of cases which corresponded to a very contagious viral infection. “It is called ‘Spanish flu’ due to an interested confusion”, asserts Mauro Hernández Benítez, professor of Applied Economy and History at UNED. “The flu neither started in Spain (...) nor was it particularly severe in our country. The pandemic coincided with the First World War and seriously affected lots of combatants, especially french and German. Press censorship in the belligerent countries prevented the reporting of an epidemic that could be seen as a factor of weakness. In Spain, on the other hand, neutrality allowed the press to cover the spread of the virus extensively. So it was left with the undeserved name of Spanish flu”.


Aquest article és part del projecte "Les Mentides Amenacen la Salut", el primer portal de fact-checking de rumors sobre la covid-19 de Catalunya.

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