After the Spanish flu pandemic ravaged the world in 1918, the scientists estimated it had killed some 21 million people. But current estimates are much higher. They put the death toll between 50 and 100 million people. That was 5% of the world population at the time. And those numbers make the Spanish flu the deadliest pandemic of all time.
Death toll per country
The virus killed 18 million people in India, about 7 million in China, and 1.5 million in Indonesia. Since Asia is the most populous continent, it is the one that was hit the worse.
In the U.S., 675,000 people died. 500,000 died in Germany, 455,000 in Nigeria, 450,000 in Russia, almost 400,000 in Italy and Japan, each; and 300,000 in South Africa, Afghanistan, and Mexico, each.
In Britain, the flu infected 1/4 of the population and killed 250,000 people.
The deaths in other countries ranged from the 200,000+ to the tens of thousands. Only in a few lucky countries, the death toll was in the triple digits, like in Malta and Iceland.
In other countries, the death percentages were devastating. 13% of the population of Tahiti died (in a month), along with 22% of Samoans, and perhaps up to 22% of all Iranians.
The Spanish flu killed 8% of the native inhabitants of Alaska and wiped out entire villages.
Brevig Mission, Alaska, for example, had 80 adults in 1918. The disease hit them on November 15, and five days later, 72 of them were dead. The survivors interred them in a mass grave along with the fallen children.
While in the Labrador Peninsula, in Canada, 30% of the Inuits died in a matter of weeks.
This flu probably infected about 500 million people worldwide (1/3 of the population).
The only regions spared were two islands. One was Fiji, the other one was Marajo, a remote island on the mouth of the Amazon River, in Brazil.
The rest of Brazil, though, was not that lucky. At least 180,000 of its citizens died. Even Brazil’s president, Francisco de Paula Rodrigues Alves, caught the Spanish flu. He had just been re-elected for a second term but died from the flu in January 1919 before assuming office.
Most of these people died within a single year: between March 2018 and the spring of 2019.
For those fond of numbers, here is the number of deaths and the death rate by continent and by country (click the pictures to enlarge them). The estimates are the work of Johnson & Mueller.
Some famous people that died from the Spanish flu