Epidemic vs. Pandemic: What’s the Difference?

Is the current coronavirus outbreak an epidemic or a pandemic? It depends on whom you ask. Everyone seems to agree that it is definitely at least one of them, but some disagree on whether it has already reached the point of being both. Here’s what you need to know about an epidemic versus a pandemic—not just for this latest health crisis but for any others that pop up in the future.

The first major flu-related pandemic was the Russian Flu, which traveled around the world in the late 1800s. An outbreak of the Spanish Flu followed roughly 20 years later. The most well-known pandemic in recent modern history was HIV/AIDS, which was first identified in the early 1980s.

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