NPR

Are We Prepared For A Killer Flu Epidemic?

An 21st century outbreak could be as nightmarish as the 1918 pandemic, which killed about 40 million. So the Gates Foundation wants to spur the development of a flu vaccine. Don't we already have one?
Patients at an Army ward in Kansas during the influenza epidemic of 1918. About 675,000 Americans died of the flu known as La Grippe. Source: NYPL/Science Source

A hundred years ago, the world was struck by a nightmare scenario.

World War I was still raging. And then a suspicious disease appeared.

In the spring of 1918, the first wave of cases wasn't all that bad. The death rate was low. But by November, the "mother of all flu pandemics" was spreading explosively across Asia, Europe and North America.

Known as "La Grippe," the new flu strain killed quickly and at a high rate, especially among soldiers in the war. "The boys were coming in with colds and a headache and they were dead within two or three days," a French nurse on November

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