In the Asian Flu of 1957-58, They Rejected Lockdowns

by Jeffrey A. Tucker
The American Institute for Economic Research

The Asian flu of 1957-58 was a deadly pandemic with a broader reach for severe outcomes than Covid-19 of 2020. It killed between 1 and 4 million people worldwide, and 116,000 in the US in a time with half the population. It was a leading contributor to a year in which the US saw 62,000 excess deaths.

Globally, it might have been five times as deadly as Covid-19, as measured by deaths per capita. It was unusually lethal for younger people: 40 percent of deaths had occurred among people younger than 65, whereas the average age of death Covid-19 is 80 with only 10-20% of deaths under the age of 65.

What’s striking is how public health officials handled the pandemic. It had a diametrically opposite response than policymakers pursued in 2020. One might assume that this was due to negligence and a lack of sophistication in understanding the need to lockdown. Surely they didn’t know 65 years ago what we know today!

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