The world has seen many pandemics before, like the 1918 influenza pandemic. In 2009 the avian flu was declared a pandemic and in 2020 the spread of COVID-19 reached pandemic proportions. When a disease affects a lot of people, declaring it a pandemic helps to alert the public to its seriousness and to coordinate efforts to contain it. Here’s the word in the wild:
Many scientists see a vaccine as the only solution to the pandemic. (Nature)An epidemic, on the other hand, affects a more localized group of people. There could be an epidemic of seasonal flu, which means that a lot of people in one area get it at the same time. Epidemic is also an adjective to describe a widespread infectious disease. Unlike the word pandemic, you can use epidemic for anything that catches on, like an unfortunate epidemic of cheating at a high school.
The WHO declared that the virus is a pandemic. (The Verge)
"This would help prevent the re-emergence of the disease after we have brought the present epidemic under control," he said. (BBC)Remember: a pandemic is a kind of epidemic, one that travels all over the world. A pandemic is everywhere, but an epidemic is only somewhere.
More broadly, antibiotic overuse contributes to the growing epidemic of antibiotic resistance. (Scientific American)
A second project is under way to produce clones born with diabetes, another epidemic disease that affects both humans and dogs. (BusinessWeek)
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An epidemic is a disease that spreads rapidly among many people in a community at the same time. In the 1980s, the fast-spreading AIDS epidemic transformed life on our planet. Continue reading...