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Pandemics through the decades | MIT Technology Review

Pandemics through the decades | MIT Technology Review

Pandemics through the decades | MIT Technology Review

June 1956

June 1956

From “The First Great Epidemic of History”: Since the beginning of recorded history the people of this world have been molested by a long series of awesome epidemics, several of which have brought mankind dangerously close to extinction. The worst of them all is generally thought to have been the so-called Black Death, which ravaged the known world during most of the second half of the Fourteenth Century. Even more extensive in scope than the Black Death was an epidemic, or pandemic, which occurred nearly 600 years later. This was the influenza outbreak of the Twentieth Century, which began in Europe in May or June of 1918 and in three waves traveled literally throughout the world. It is probable, in fact, that the total carnage from this recent epidemic exceeded that of the Black Death.

October 1995 cover

October 1995

From “Thinking Like a Virus”: Why did it take less than two weeks to find the mutant coronavirus responsible for Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, or SARS, while it took the better part of three years to find HIV? There are many reasons—including better technology and a less elusive viral target—but don’t discount the unprecedented level of worldwide communication among SARS researchers.

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