The epidemiological term, pandemic is applied to an outbreak of disease that has spread across the globe, or in other words, an epidemic that has crossed many regions, borders and multiple continents. Some of the largest pandemics in history include the bubonic plague in the 14th century and the Spanish influenza of the early 20th century. More recent examples include HIV and COVID-19.
The term pandemic is charged with controversy, not least in the aftermath of the H1N1 influenza "pandemic", in which allegations of financial ties between the WHO and big pharma, led to allegations of politically-motivated definition changes to generate hyped up orders of antiviral agents 5.
The term pandemic has classically been used for infectious diseases, however is now used more widely in medicine for any condition that is affecting people across large regions, for example the "vitamin D deficiency pandemic" 3 or the "obesity pandemic" 4.
History and etymology
In ancient Greek, the word πᾶν (pan) means all, and the word δῆμος (demos) means people.
- 1, What Is a Pandemic?. (2019) JAMA. 321 (9): 910. doi:10.1001/jama.2019.0700 - Pubmed
- 2. Kelly H. The classical definition of a pandemic is not elusive. (2011) Bulletin of the World Health Organization. 89 (7): 540-1. doi:10.2471/BLT.11.088815 - Pubmed
- 3. Holick MF. The vitamin D deficiency pandemic: Approaches for diagnosis, treatment and prevention. (2017) Reviews in endocrine & metabolic disorders. 18 (2): 153-165. doi:10.1007/s11154-017-9424-1 - Pubmed
- 4. Meldrum DR, Morris MA, Gambone JC. Obesity pandemic: causes, consequences, and solutions-but do we have the will?. (2017) Fertility and sterility. 107 (4): 833-839. doi:10.1016/j.fertnstert.2017.02.104 - Pubmed
- 5. Doshi P. The elusive definition of pandemic influenza. (2011) Bulletin of the World Health Organization. 89 (7): 532-8. doi:10.2471/BLT.11.086173 - Pubmed
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