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[Perspectives] Understanding, preventing, and stopping epidemics

Public health was born from crises. Before the influenza pandemic of 1918, many diseases were seen as something that mostly affected the poor, to be blamed on those who had not pulled themselves out of poverty. The 1918 influenza pandemic is estimated to have killed up to 50 million people, infecting rich and poor alike. Viruses were just beginning to be recognised, and doctors had no vaccines, no antivirals, no antibiotics. The pandemic revealed that disease is a population-wide issue, not simply an individual burden.