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How does coronavirus compare to other pandemics? Show more Show less

COVID-19 has been devastating, affecting people across the world and killing thousands. However, it is far from the first pandemic of its kind. From the Spanish flu to the bubonic plague, throughout history pandemics have killed huge amounts of the population. Is the coronavirus pandemic the worst in history? Or have previous pandemics been worse?

The Plague of Justinian is the worst pandemic in history Show more Show less

One of the earliest recorded pandemics, the Plague of Justinian killed 30-50 million people.
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The Plague of Justinian killed the highest proportion of people

The Plague of Justinian is thought to have killed around half of the population of the entire planet.
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Context

The Argument

The Plague of Justinian originally hit in the year 541AD, thought to have spread from rats. It probably began in Egypt before being carried across the sea to Mediterranean countries before devastating the city of Constantinople, the capital of the Byzantine Empire.[1] People across Europe, Arabia, North Africa and Asia were infected and killed.[2] While the amount of people killed by the Plague of Justinian is debated by historians, it is estimated that between the original outbreak in 541 and the reoccurrences in the following two centuries, 30 to 100 million people died. This could represent roughly half of the world's population at the time, making it the deadliest pandemic of all time in terms of global mortality rate.[3]

Counter arguments

Although many claim that the Plague of Justinian killed half of the world's population, this is not backed up. Other estimates suggest that roughly 25 million people were killed, a figure closer to 10% of the world's population.[4]

Framing

Premises

[P1] The Plague of Justinian killed half of the world's population. [P2] Therefore, it is the deadliest and worst pandemic of all time.

Rejecting the premises

[Rejecting P1] The Plague of Justinian did not kill half of the world's population.

Proponents

Further Reading

References

  1. https://www.ancient-origins.net/news-mysterious-phenomena/justinian-plague-probably-caused-bacteria-unknown-how-it-appeared-00438
  2. https://www.history.com/news/pandemics-end-plague-cholera-black-death-smallpox
  3. https://www.nationalgeographic.com/news/2014/1/140129-justinian-plague-black-death-bacteria-bubonic-pandemic/
  4. https://www.mphonline.org/worst-pandemics-in-history/

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This page was last edited on Tuesday, 31 Mar 2020 at 13:11 UTC