Giving Compass' Take:

• Joe McCarthy and Olivia Kestin explain how current coronavirus prevention efforts imitate and improve upon lessons learned from the past century.

• Why should we focus on lessons learned from previous failures? How can those translate into future successes? What can you do today to help write the script for a successful coronavirus recovery?

• Find out how your giving can play a role in creating a positive coronavirus response narrative.

The COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic may seem unprecedented, but outbreaks of infectious diseases are nothing new.

While there aren't many people who remember what it was like to live through the last intense pandemic — the “Spanish flu” of 1918 — or even the polio epidemics of the 20th century, health crises that took place over the past 100 years are now being used as a sort of roadmap when it comes to addressing COVID-19.

In 2007, researchers took a close look at how cities in the United States responded to the Spanish flu pandemic in 1918. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, which ignored early warnings of the virus and held a parade during its approach, ended up having a severe outbreak. St. Louis, Missouri, meanwhile, ordered people to stay indoors and managed to overcome the virus swiftly.

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, amateur scientists have stepped up to 3D-print face shields, develop faster tests, and provide research assistance to major labs.

This sort of community activism has its roots in the HIV epidemic of the 1980s, when LGBTQ+ activists worked on treatment options for the disease and campaigned for government support.

The world is waiting with bated breath for a COVID-19 vaccine. Whether one will emerge within 12 to 18 months is unclear, but what is clear is that scientists are developing the vaccine at a faster rate than ever before.

Researchers have learned from past mistakes, new technology has ironed out many of the earlier production complications, and manufacturing capacity has increased exponentially.

Numerous countries in Southeast Asia reacted quickly to today’s pandemic because of lessons learned from the 2003 SARS crisis. SARS was a deadlier virus than COVID-19, but it wasn’t as infectious, so countries had more time to contain it.

Read the full article about lessons learned from past health crises by Joe McCarthy and Olivia Kestin at Global Citizen.