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Jörg Vögele, Luisa Rittershaus & Katharina Schuler: Epidemics and Pandemics – the Historical Perspective. Introduction. [Abstract]

Every historical period has its characteristic epidemic. In the Middle Ages, up to one-third of the European population died of the plague epidemic called the Black Death (1346 to 1353). Later, cholera, Spanish flu, and AIDS terrified the population. Every epidemic triggered social changes and functioned as a catalyst for developments, which were already taking place. In addition to the often-devastating impact on life and health, epidemics and pandemics hold potential for innovations. The Black Death certainly led to a rising standard of living and is even said to have accelerated the development of printing. In the 19th century, cholera was considered to be a motor of sanitary reforms, such as central water supply and sewerage. The current Sars-CoV-2 pandemic clearly shows that epidemics are still part of human history and not just, as has long been believed, limited to the Global South.

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