Fact check: There is no universal pandemic trajectory; COVID-19 may not have worse 2nd wave
The claim: There has never been an influenza pandemic without a second wave worse than the first
As parts of the United States experience major outbreaks of the coronavirus, some look to earlier pandemics for guidance on how COVID-19 may run its course.
“Never in recorded history has there been a pandemic that did not have a 2nd wave that dwarfed the first in terms of severity and the number of deaths,” read a May 21 Facebook post shared almost 8,000 times.
“Never. Not once. Not this time either. It will return in September or October in full force.”
The COVID-19 pandemic continues to spread rapidly across the United States, with some of country’s largest states now debating whether to reinstate restrictive measures that were lifted as states reopened.
More:Dr. Anthony Fauci tells Congress new coronavirus cases could reach 100,000 a day without changes
Regardless of the future trajectory of the COVID-19 pandemic, the post’s primary claim is historically inaccurate. While it is difficult to gauge the severity of some pandemics due to poor record keeping, historians point to several cases that defy the claim.
Epidemiologists are also unsure that conceptualizing of pandemics as coming in “waves” is a useful concept, for both the current SARS-CoV-2 outbreak and past pandemics.
Pandemic 'waves' and the language of disease
The concept of “waves” in pandemics originated with the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic, to describe the distinct outbreaks experienced over the course of the pandemic.
“The wave is kind of a metaphor that ...
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