The 1918 influenza pandemic affected the whole world. Could it happen again?

The Great War had already taken so many. Then, as the war was in its death throes, a new enemy struck.

With symptoms so grotesque some called it the “black flu”, it was the disease that came to be known as Spanish influenza.

Over the course of about a year, up to one in three people in the world had been infected and 5 per cent of the global population killed.

It’s a death toll that’s hard to fathom, said University of Queensland influenza virologist Kirsty Short.

“This virus killed more people in 24 weeks than HIV killed in 24 years. This has been described as the greatest medical holocaust in history.

“The death toll was so severe that in some countries they actually ran out of coffins.”

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