Will the Coronavirus Lead to Innovation?

Observing the effects of previous epidemics could possibly help us react to the current epidemic. These past epidemics have even caused some of the great minds of history to create their now famous works. The Black Death in the mid-1300’s was estimated to have killed between 30% and 60% of all of Europe. This changed the social and economic structure leading to the creation of the middle class and sparked more interest in art, literacy, and experimentation. The outbreaks in 1592 and 1606 in London of the plague caused theaters to be closed – letting Shakespeare delve into poetry and writing Macbeth, among other things. In 1666, the last major plague hit England – causing Newton to flee to the countryside during which time he developed his many theories on optics, calculus, gravity, and the laws of motion. The Boston Smallpox Epidemic of 1721 infected 11,000 and killed around 850. This led to the spread of inoculation, an early form of vaccine where one would take the pus of an infected individual and use it to inoculate a healthy individual. This sparked a new era in journalism when James Franklin shared his anti-inoculation viewpoint in a local newspaper.

Soon after, publishers of many different newspapers were voicing their opinions and stories on local events, politics, humor, and satire. The Spanish Flu outbreak in 1918 infected 1 out of every 3 people worldwide killing between 50 and 100 million people. This made the U.S. government take disease more seriously and create a number of ways to help fight future epidemics. They created a nationwide disease reporting system, deployed the first national health survey, and create an effective flu vaccine.

Learn more about how companies are innovating in face of disease just like the many scientists, artists, and journalists of old were here – can coronavirus and epidemics innovate?

Epidemics and Innovation