Your submission is now in Draft mode.

Once it's ready, please submit your draft for review by our team of Community Moderators. Thank you!

Submit Essay

Once you submit your essay, you can no longer edit it.

Pending

This content now needs to be approved by community moderators.

Submitted

This essay was submitted and is waiting for review.

Pandemic series: a new Spanish Flu?

Question

The worst pandemic in modern times, killing up to 50 million people worldwide from 1918-1919, was the so-called "Spanish Flu." Emerging today, such a virus could spread very rapidly worldwide relative to 1918; on the other hand we presently have countermeasures (including experience in creating and manufacturing flu vaccines) that did not exist then. So it is unclear how these countervailing effects would interact.

Also unclear is the frequency of emergence of novel flu strains with high human pathology. Large-scale flu outbreaks since 1918 have not had nearly as high a death toll, but the data prior to 1918 is less clear (see this paper for an accounting) and the world was far less connected in those times.

So here we assess the probability of a re-do of the the Spanish Flu: a natural flu that kills tens of millions worldwide in a single year, sometime in the coming two decades. We can all hope this number is small — but how small?

Will there be more than 50M deaths worldwide in a single 1-year period due to an influenza strain of natural origin by 2035?

Make a Prediction

Prediction

Note: this question resolved before its original close time. All of your predictions came after the resolution, so you did not gain (or lose) any points for it.

Note: this question resolved before its original close time. You earned points up until the question resolution, but not afterwards.

Current points depend on your prediction, the community's prediction, and the result. Your total earned points are averaged over the lifetime of the question, so predict early to get as many points as possible! See the FAQ.