The devastating, widespread experience of COVID-19 has captured the world’s attention this year, however epidemics and pandemics are not a new phenomenon. Throughout history, civilisation has endured a number of major infectious disease outbreaks. The novel coronavirus continues its spread, infecting and killing millions of people – with no vaccine currently in sight. What can we learn from major pandemics of the past like the Black Plague, Spanish flu, Asian flu, Hong Kong flu and swine flu, as well as the ongoing global blight of HIV/AIDs? Infectious diseases, such as seasonal influenza, are more than simply public health issues; they can also have major social impacts, change economies and even alter the course of history.
This book explores the health, economic and social challenges presented by the major types of infectious disease, viewed in the context of the continuing fight against the coronavirus. It compares Australia with other developed countries in relation to the effectiveness of their responses to COVID-19 through social distancing, lockdowns and other infection control measures, and also explores how vaccine-preventable disease epidemics are being successfully managed in Australia. How do we learn the lessons of history, overcome the current pandemic, and better prepare for the next deadly mass outbreak?