The 1918 pandemic did have a deadly second wave, but not due to quarantine being lifted
19 May 2020
What was claimed
A post claims that the 1918 influenza bout had a deadly second wave after quarantine restrictions were lifted.
It is true the second wave of the pandemic was the most deadly, but it did not happen due to lifting of quarantine.
A Facebook post warning “humanity should never allow a repeat of the same mistake in 1918” has been sharedthousands of times on Facebook.
The post reads “The most severe pandemic in history was the Spanish Flu of 1918. It lasted for 2 years, in 3 waves with 500 million people infected and 50 million deaths. Most of the fatalities happened in the 2nd wave. The people felt so bad about the quarantine and social distancing measures that when they were first lifted, the people rejoiced in the streets without abandon. In the coming weeks, the 2nd wave occurred, with tens of millions dead.”
The claims in the post about 1918 are a mixture of accurate and inaccurate.
The 1918 influenza outbreak or the “Spanish flu” spread across the world in between 1918 and 1919, and is generally believed to have infected 500 million people and killed 50 million, making it the deadliest pandemic of modern times, (the black death is thought to have killed more.)
However, it’s incorrect to say the lifting of quarantine and social distancing measures was what led to the second wave. In reality, across the world, public health measures greatlyvaried, with parades still being held in Autumn 1918, at the height of the second wave. In the US, quarantine measures were implemented during the second wave.
The post might be referring to an infamous incident that happened with a parade in Philadelphia during the 1918 pandemic, although again, this didn’t happen because of quarantine being lifted. We wrote about that outbreak here.
This article is part of our work fact checking potentially false pictures, videos and stories on Facebook. You can read more about this—and find out how to report Facebook content—here.
For the purposes of that scheme, we’ve rated this claim as partly false
because there was an extremely deadly second wave of the 1918 flu, but not due to quarantine being lifted.
You’ve probably seen a surge in misleading and unsubstantiated medical advice since the Covid-19 outbreak. If followed, it can put lives at serious risk. We need your help to protect us all from false and harmful information.
We’ve seen people claiming to be health professionals, family members, and even the government – offering dangerous tips like drinking warm water or gargling to prevent infection. Neither of these will work.
The longer claims like these go unchecked, the more they are repeated and believed. It can put people’s health at serious risk, when our services are already under pressure.
Today, you have the opportunity to help save lives. Good information about Covid-19 could be the difference between someone taking the right precautions to protect themselves and their families, or not. Could you help protect us all from false and harmful information today?