Black Death deaths: How many deaths were there from the plague?
Bubonic plague: Expert on how Black Death ‘killed millions’
Covid-19 has become the deadliest pandemic in modern history, with now two million people dead at its hands. The virus, poorly understood in its early days, sidelined world governments and has since evolved into deadlier and more infectious forms. Global response to the disease has led people to draw comparisons with other past pandemics, many of which ultimately ended up much more deadly.
How many deaths were there from the plague?
While Covid-19 death rates are closing in on many other diseases, it still fails to touch the devastating costs of the Black Death.
Early accounts state the disease, otherwise known as the bubonic plague or yersinia pestis, emerged in Mongolia hundreds of years ago.
In a now all too familiar move, it mutated into a new variant and entered Europe in the mid 14th century.
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Much like Covid-19, the plague used Italy, primarily Venice, as a crossing point, and despite pioneering organised responses killed 60 percent of the city’s population.
By 1351, the pandemic had petered out, thanks in part to quarantining efforts, but left behind a sea of deaths.
As the Black Death receded, 50 percent of Europe’s population came with it.
Between 25 and 50 million people lost their lives to the disease.
Worldwide the costs were far greater, as researchers estimate the disease killed between 75 and 200 million people.
But the world hadn’t seen the end of the disease by the 14th century, as successive outbreaks continued to kill.
While these primarily dominated the Middle Ages, resurging epidemics lasted until the 19th century.
The disease still exists and kills in the 21st century, but antibiotics have significantly blunted it.
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The Black Death remains the most costly pandemic in history but is one amongst hundreds.
The 14th-century catastrophe was known as the second plague pandemic and followed one nearly 1000 years earlier.
The plague of Justinian came first between the years 541 and 542 and killed 15 to 100 million people.
At the time, this was 60 percent of the population of Europe.
Few diseases have had the same impact as the plague, but some have come close.
The Spanish Flu caused the deadliest pandemic before Covid-19.
The virus, a subtype of H1N1, infected 500 million people, approximately a third of the world’s population.
Between 1918 and 1920, it killed between 17 and 100 million people.
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