Table 4.

Chronology of Known Pandemics.*

Time Name Microbe Death Toll
430 BC The plague of Athens Rickettsia spp? Salmonella enterica spp? 25% of population
165–180 Antonine plague Smallpox? measles? 5M
541–542 Plague of Justinian Yersinia pestis (Gram-negative bacteria) 30–50M
735–737 Japanese smallpox epidemic Smallpox (DNA virus) 1M
1347–1351 Black death Yersinia pestis 200M
1520-onward New world smallpox Variola (smallpox) 56M
1629–1631 Italian plague Yersinia pestis 1M
1665–1666 Great plague of London Yersinia pestis 100K
1800s Yellow fever Yellow fever (RNA virus) 100–150K
1817–1923 Cholera pandemics Vibrio cholera (Gram-negative bacteria) >1M
1885 Third plague Yersinia pestis 12M
1889–1890 Russian flu Influenza H2N2? (RNA virus) 1M
1918–1919 Spanish flu Influenza H1N1 40–50M
1957–1958 Asian flu Influenza H2N2 1.1M
1968–1970 Hong Kong flu Influenza H3N2 1M
1981–present AIDS HIV (RNA virus) 25–35M
2002–2003 SARS SARS-CoV-1 (RNA virus) 0.8K
2009–2010 Swine flu Influenza H1N1 200K
2014–2016 Ebola Ebola virus (RNA virus) 11K
2015–present MERS MERS-CoV (RNA virus) 0.8K
2019–present COVID-19 SARS-CoV-2 (RNA virus) >0.5M
*Due to the lack of clear-cut definition of a pandemic, this table was compiled based on commonalities in multiple references.3244
There were more than 20 waves of Yellow fever in the 1800s; hence, a precise end-date cannot be given.

AIDS, acquired immune deficiency syndrome; BC, before Christ; COVID-19, coronavirus disease 2019; DNA, deoxyribonucleic acid; flu, influenza; H1N1, hemagglutinin-1 neuraminidase-1; H2N2, hemagglutinin-2 neuraminidase-2; H3N2, hemagglutinin-3 neuraminidase-2; HIV, human immune deficiency virus; K, thousands; M, millions; MERS, Middle East respiratory syndrome; MERS-CoV, Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus; RNA, ribonucleic acid; SARS, severe acute respiratory syndrome; SARS CoV-1, severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus-1; SARS CoV-2, severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus-2.

RMMJ Rambam Maimonides Medical Journal Rambam Health Care Campus 2020 July; 11(3): e0027. ISSN: 2076-9172
Published online 2020 July 31. doi: 10.5041/RMMJ.10418.