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Patrice Bourdelais: The COVID-19 Pandemic in Historical Perspective. [Abstract]

This paper seeks to better understand the pandemic by looking at the long term (longue durée). It is first recalled that the progressive construction of a horizon of eradication of infectious diseases led the population of rich countries to consider that the great epidemics no longer represented a real danger. A sanitary disarmament of our societies followed. However, the scientific response, its strength and speed, which made it possible to propose a vaccine in less than a year, constituted a real breakthrough, making it possible to envisage a control of the epidemic in these northern countries within a short time. In the face of this breakthrough, however, we can observe a strong permanence of the reactions of populations and societies (incredulity, construction of rumours, instrumentalization by all social and political actors). Finally, after about a century and a half of existence, the parenthesis of freedom of movement during epidemics has closed in the face of COVID-19. The article insists on the importance of the quality of alerts in the control of epidemics since the 14th century and questions the effectiveness of the WHO in this field if a large country does not respect the obligation of immediate declaration. It also questions the entry of humanity in a new pandemic era as a consequence of the demographic growth and the unprecedented scale of exchanges.

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