How Pandemics Shape Society

nurses and medical people carrying a body into a horse-drawn stretcher in the early 1900s

Alexandre White, assistant professor of sociology and history of medicine, discusses how past pandemics, such as the 1918 Spanish flu outbreak, have reverberated long after the disease stops spreading.

“Epidemics are crises. During crises, a lot of commonly held beliefs are questioned, and the status quo can be thrown into question, too,” says White. “It’s my hope that we can see how public health and socioeconomic disparities are widening as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Ideally, this will lead us to create better systems in the future.”

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