Covid 19 V.S. the Black Death

By: Zeke Ewing

There have been many deadly diseases throughout human history that have dramatically changed our lives. From the Flu to Smallpox, diseases can cause many major changes for not just your life but the entire world. Perhaps the two most notable diseases that have greatly changed human life have been the Bubonic Plague (or Black Death) and the Coronavirus, but there is more in common between these two diseases than you might initially think. 


The Black Death

The Black Death was a deadly disease that swept throughout Europe in the early 17th century. The Bubonic Plague would cause the infected to have swelling at the armpits, fever, chills, aches, and the diseases eventually led to the person’s death (history 2010).  It was believed to be transmitted when a flea bit an infected rat. These fleas would later bite a human and transmit the plague to them. The reason for this theory was that humans and rats were in close contact in the middle ages due to the unsanitary living conditions of the European population (History 2010). 

It is unclear where the plague originated but Europe when a trade ship entered a port in Messina, Italy while the entire crew was infected with the deadly plague. The ship was quickly sent away by authorities at the time, but the damage had already been done. The bubonic plague ravaged the European population for the next four to five years. The black death spread so quickly, because of how easily transmitted it was between humans, you only had to brush someone else’s infected clothes for it to be transmitted to you (History 2010). 

One key factor to the disease’s deadliness was the extreme lack of medicine at the time. Many of the remedies for the black death at the time often didn’t help at all. Some practices conducted by the plague doctors included bloodletting, where the doctor would get rid of the “infected blood” by slitting the patient’s wrist, which unknowingly made patients die sooner from the treatments they were using. One strange fact about the plague was that it affected more than just humans and rats, it surprisingly spread to pigs, cows, goats, and even sheep. People even abandoned their friends and family to escape the disease to no avail (History 2010). 

Unlike most diseases, the black death never ended, instead, it continued to loom over Europe eventually returning many times in the future. Almost one-third of the European population was killed by the black plague, a number that is unmatched by any other disease in history. However not everything that came from this was bad, the black death is what led us to the Renaissance and the way we handle disease now (history 2010). 


The CoronaVirus

The coronavirus (Covid 19) is a sickness that has recently been discovered and affects everyone’s way of life. Although it is unclear where the virus came from, there have been speculations that it send came sent from bats, or it was even man-made. Most experts believe it originated in a Wuhan wet market, a meat market where animals are killed on the spot (Bhargava, H.D. 2021). 

The coronavirus spread quickly and by March 13th the entire world was on lockdown. Schools shut down, businesses and restaurants closed down, the entire world fell silent. The coronavirus has killed over 4 million people worldwide and the number increases by the day(CDC covid19).  

The primary response to avoid the virus was to wear a mask and wash hands, which was helpful in the fight against Covid. The symptoms of the virus include chills, cough, and headaches and can be mistaken for the common cold. The virus is most devastating for people with compromised immune systems that are more susceptible to the disease. 

However, the cases of Covid 19 have been slowly decreasing and it is thanks in large part to the vaccine that has come out. The vaccine will hopefully help get everything back to normal. The coronavirus is still a large part of everyone’s lives and we are still in it so it is hard for us to see the end, but we will get there, eventually. 

The coronavirus and the black death are very similar because they both spread rapidly and both were (and still are) devastating, but it is important that we learn from humanity’s mistakes and do not repeat them in the future. Although it seems like it might go on forever, it will subside eventually.  

Source 1: black death- Editors. (2010, September 17). Black death.  

Source 2: Covid 19-  Bhargava, H. D. (2021, August 15). Coronavirus history: How did coronavirus start? WebMD. Retrieved September 16, 2021, from  



Andrew Zies

Anthony Clauson