[Source: US National Library of Medicine, full page: (LINK). Abstract, edited.]
Hum Vaccin Immunother. 2019 May 23:1-4. doi: 10.1080/21645515.2019.1607711. [Epub ahead of print]
A possible European origin of the Spanish influenza and the first attempts to reduce mortality to combat superinfecting bacteria: an opinion from a virologist and a military historian.
Oxford JS1, Gill D1.
Author information: 1a Blizard Institute, Queen Mary University London , Whitechapel, London.
When we reconsider the virology and history of the Spanish Influenza Pandemic, the science of 2018 provides us with tools which did not exist at the time. Two such tools come to mind. The first lies in the field of ‘gain of function’ experiments. A potential pandemic virus, such as influenza A (H5N1), can be deliberately mutated in the laboratory in order to change its virulence and spreadability. Key mutations can then be identified. A second tool lies in phylogenetics, combined with molecular clock analysis. It shows that the 1918 pandemic virus first emerged in the years 1915-1916. We have revisited the literature published in Europe and the United States, and the notes left by physicians who lived at the time. In this, we have followed the words of the late Alfred Crosby: who wrote that “contemporary documentary evidence from qualified physicians” is the key to understanding where and how the first outbreaks occurred. In our view, the scientists working in Europe fulfill Crosby’s requirement for contemporary evidence of origin. Elsewhere, Crosby also suggested that “the physicians of 1918 were participants in the greatest failure of medical science in the twentieth century”. Ours is a different approach. We point to individual pathologists in the United States and in France, who strove to construct the first universal vaccines against influenza. Their efforts were not misdirected, because the ultimate cause of death in nearly all cases flowed from superinfections with respiratory bacteria.
KEYWORDS: Etaples Administrative District; Hospital Beds in the Great War; Hygiene in the Great War; Influenza Epidemics in 1917; New Vaccines; Spanish Influenza Origin
PMID: 31121112 DOI: 10.1080/21645515.2019.1607711
Keywords: Pandemic Influenza; H1N1; Spanish flu; History.