Opinion

A greater sense of urgency would make a good vaccine

15 March 2020 - 00:00

In 1918, at the end of World War 1, ships returning a group of black South African soldiers stopped off in West Africa, where the Spanish flu then engulfing the world was raging. SA had been spared the pandemic until then but about 13 of the soldiers were sick by the time they docked in Cape Town.

Quarantine was arranged but security was poor and the men were quickly put onto trains to take them home all around the country. The spread was immediate and more than 300,000 South Africans died of that flu. Around the world the toll approached 50 million, more lives than the war itself had claimed...

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