MAY 09

The COVID-19 pandemic is not the first global shock to hit hard almost every country in the world. The 1918 Flu Pandemic, the Great Depression and World War II were similar events that required tremendous efforts by governments to overcome their adverse effects.

These crises hold three important lessons for today: (i) social distancing and masks make a large contribution to stem the spread of the virus; (ii) safeguarding the banking system and keeping trade open are vital for the survival of economies; and (iii) governments should reallocate resources to strategic sectors by collaborating efficiently with the private sector.

During the 1918-20 global flu pandemic, the world, with its rudimentary knowledge on viruses, was exposed to a deadly virus with no medical treatment at hand.

The most efficient public health intervention proved to be social distancing.

Back then "social distancing" was called "crowding control" and included interventions like today's mask laws, business-hour restrictions, and the closing of schools.

A version of this article appears in the print on May 10, 2021, of The Himalayan Times.