Human history has been marked with deadly pandemics. From the Plague of Athens, to the Black Death, to AIDS, to Ebola, to the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), and now COVID-19, contagious diseases continue to threaten and disrupt human populations. Interestingly, a dramatic aspect of epidemic response is the desire to assign responsibility; this human behaviour and the recurring theme that medical and public health interventions often fail to live up to their promise has also been part of past epidemics.
But what have we learnt from the past? Do epidemics start at a moment in time and proceed on a stage limited in space and duration? Do they follow a basic pattern? Does the desire to protect economic interests lead citizens to ignore the pandemic until acceleration in deaths forces action? Are exaggerated fears in people a common trait in epidemics?
To get answers to all these questions, watch the sixteenth session of LUMS Live: Learning from the History of Pandemics. This session was planned jointly with the Mahbub ul Haq Research Centre at LUMS. Our distinguished panelists included Dr. Kasim Tirmizey, Faculty, Concordia University’s Centre for Engineering in Society; Dr. Ali Usman Qasmi, Associate Professor, School of Humanities and Social Sciences, LUMS and Dr. Amna Khalid, Associate Professor, Department of History, Carleton College.