How have pandemics changed the world throughout human history?


Throughout history, pandemics have had the power to change everything! Whether it is politics or the economy itself. The world has encountered such disastrous pandemics all over history which caused huge empires to collapse. From Justinian Plague to COVID-19, pandemics have strongly impacted and weakened the economy, and has shaken the entire system. ‘

Let's talk about some pandemics and how they were able to change the whole world throughout human history.

The Justinian Plague In The Sixth Century

Justinian Plague is still remembered as one of the most dangerous and deadliest plagues of all time. This plague started from Egypt and sooner rather than later spread like wildfire in the Constantinople. The plague was named after the Emperor Justinian. The plague was responsible for killing millions of people. It stayed for a long time and it would appear in different waves. In AD 750 when it finally went for good, it had weakened and drained the empire majorly! The Byzantine army was not able to recruit new soldiers or train them due to the ongoing illness, due to which it became very easier to attack them. Apart from that, the pandemic weakened the economic system too so by the time it left, the empire had lost way too much, it even lost its territories in Europe. This plague was responsible for killing almost half of the population of the world after which began the Dark ages.

Smallpox In The Fifteenth Century

When the Europeans came to the continents of America, they brought along with different types of diseases, out of all, Smallpox was the deadly one. This was a very contagious disease that killed more than 40% of those who were infected. The pandemic was the reason for killing more than half of the population of America as it killed more than 20 million people. However, the only people who benefitted from this contagious disease were the Europeans as the pandemic helped them in colonizing and developing different vacated areas of America.

Black Death

This pandemic occurred between the period of 1347 to 1351. This extremely contagious disease spread like wildfire in entire Europe, infecting and killing millions of people. It killed so many people that it took many years for Europe to regain its popularity levels. However, when it comes to Asia, the damage was comparatively much more! The disease was originated in China and killed more than 40 million people! The pandemic was responsible for killing so many people that after that, the survivors actually had a better standard of living. Because of less population, the employment rate was high as factories needed more workers. According to a historian, Walter Scheidel, Pandemics are one of the four horsemen which play a role of pulling down inequality. In his book, he mentioned the deadly plague which was the reason why millions of people lost their battle to life but it also helped the survivors lead a better life. The pandemic caused the wages of the farmers to improve, apart from that it helped a lot of workers in getting jobs too.

One major impact that this pandemic had was that it made people challenge religion. It had severely weakened the Catholic church. People started to question how something so major could occur, taking away millions of lives in the presence of the all-knowing divinity? Like any other institution, the Church was helpless too and could play no role in saving the lives of the millions. The Black Plague spread like wildfire all around the continent and the Church could not do anything to stop it. This pandemic made the men question their beliefs and their faith in the Church. Before the pandemic, the Church was very powerful, but after this plague, it could never enjoy the power it had once, ever again.

The Spanish Flue

This pandemic started at the very last stage of World War One. This has also been recorded as one of the deadliest plagues of all time which was responsible for killing more than sixty million people. The flue originated in Europe however, in no time it spread like wildfire in Asia and America. Moreover, the one country which was majorly weakened due to this contagious flue was India. The plague was responsible for killing half of the population of India. One major impact of this deadly pandemic was the war. Both the Germans and Australians were majorly affected by the flu, which played a major role in weakening their armies and the whole attack. However, the General of that time, in his memoir wrote that the pandemic played a huge role in making them lose the war. The war ended in 1918 but the flu still did not stop and it kept spreading everywhere, infecting and killing people all around the world for several months.


We are still amidst the COVID-19 pandemic so we cannot really say how it has changed the people and history. It has killed more than 5 million people and is still on the rise in many different countries. However, the outbreak has put a stop on the movements of the people as everyone has been and most of the countries are still in quarantine. Unemployment rate all around the world have shot up, people are losing jobs and big enterprises are filing for bankruptcy.

People are still under strict lockdowns and the economic condition of all the countries has been severely impacted. It has also been notified that the US is observing an unemployment rate so high that the last time it was this high was at the end of the Second World War. The Pandemic originated in China due to eating bats and the first case was reported in December. Shortly after, at the end of January, the whole world started reported cases of coronavirus. Since then the whole world was quarantined and everyone was observing lockdown and it is still being observed in some countries. Now, people cannot leave their houses without proper SOP’s which include a mask which covers the nose and mouth, hand sanitizer and gloves! 

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