A Lesson From the Forgotten Pandemic of 1977

Posted On Jul 29, 2021 By Addison Wiggin

The Russian flu pandemic of 1977 might not ring a bell, even if you lived through it. As pandemics go, it was a bit of a nothing burger. The first cases cropped up in northern China in the spring of 1977. The World Health Organization didn’t learn about the disease until a few months later. It turns out that the virus was remarkably similar to a flu strain that had circulated two decades earlier. So why did it suddenly return after a 20-year absence? One very real possibility is that a research laboratory screwed up. You can probably see where this conversation is heading…

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