The WHO has finally declared the worldwide spread of COVID-19 disease as a pandemic. This is after 4,000 people have died from the disease and over 100,000 infected.
The term pandemic is derived from the Greek word ‘pandemos’ meaning everybody. The term ‘demos’ means people and ‘pan’ means everyone. The term references the risk faced by the global population and potential for a significant portion of them to fall sick. It is the ‘worldwide spread of a new disease’.
Difference from Epidemic
The term pandemic is different from epidemic. While epidemic refers to the sudden increase in incidence of a disease (more than normally expected) in a population of an area. A pandemic is an epidemic that has spread over several countries on several continents and affected a large number of people. These statuses are more in reference to the spread of the disease, rather than its severity.
There have been several pandemics in the past, the most significant of which was the ‘Black Death’ of the 14th century. It was an international outbreak of bubonic plague that killed nearly 200 million people. The most recent pandemic was the 2009 H1N1 pandemic (swine flu).