How Will COVID-19 Change the World? Historian Frank Snowden on Epidemics From the Black Death to Now

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Pandemics, like revolution, war and economic crises, are key determinants of historic change. We look at the history of epidemics, from Black Death to smallpox to COVID-19, and discuss how the coronavirus will reshape the world with leading medical historian Frank Snowden, author of “Epidemics and Society: From the Black Death to the Present.” He is a professor emeritus at Yale University who has been in Italy since the pandemic began, and himself survived a COVID-19 infection.

As more than a dozen states are seeing an uptick in cases, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warns the U.S. death toll will pass 100,000 by the beginning of June. Last week, ousted U.S. vaccine chief Rick Bright testified that if the U.S. fails to improve its response to the virus, COVID-19 could resurge after summer and lead to the “darkest winter in modern history.” Coronavirus hot spots Italy and United Kingdom are both also slowly reopening businesses.

This comes as the World Health Organization will meet virtually today with all 194 member states, and the global coronavirus death count passes 315,000 with more than 4.7 million confirmed infections. This is Dr. Mike Ryan, head of the World Health Organization’s Emergencies Programme, speaking at a recent briefing.


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