The intrusion of infectious diseases in everyday life forces humans to reassess their attitudes. Indeed, pandemics are able catalyze rapid transitions in scientific knowledge, politics, social behaviors, culture and arts. The current Coronavirus diesease-19 (COVID-19) outbreak has driven an unprecedented interest toward the influenza pandemic of 1918. The issue is whether history can shed light on the best preventive response and future scenarios. The aim of this review is to highlight the parallelism between the two pandemics. Starting from epidemiology and clinical features, but further focusing on social and cultural issues, it is possible to unreveal great similarities. Their outbreak pattern lead to hypothesize a similar duration and death burden in absence of effective vaccines or innovative treatments for COVID-19. Thus, then as now, preventive medicine represents the first and most effective tool to contain the course of the pandemic; being treatments available only supportive. At the same time,both pandemics shared the same pattern of narration (e.g. scapegoating) and the same impact on minorities in high-income countries. Furthermore, visual art responded to pandemic issues in 2020 in the form of Graffiti art, while similar role was ruled by Expressionism movement during the Spanish flu. Photography also was capable to document both catastrophic scenarios. Thus, it is possible to find a lot of clinical and social similarities between the two pandemics. Nevertheless, if the Spanish flu was not unforseen, COVID-19 spillover was partially predictable and its global impact will hopefully not be overshadowed by a major crisis such as World War I.
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