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Lessons from the 1918 Influenza Pandemic for the Current Covid-19 Pandemic: A Historical Perspective from Indonesia and Other Countries

Friday, April 17 2020,

8:00 - 9:30 am EDT (Eastern Daylight Time) /  

19:00 - 20:30 WIB (Western Indonesian Time)


The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted daily life across the world. Lacking a closely coordinated international approach to managing a global outbreak, different countries have developed distinct strategies to manage the pandemic. While China and India were quick to employ complete lockdowns, the US, with its more decentralized form of government, has adopted a state-centric approach, with different states enacting different measures at different times and with varying forms of restrictions.


This webinar examines aspects of the 1918 global influenza pandemic as it unfolded in Java and other locations across the world. Analysis of comparative data from Java, India, the United States, and other countries provides insights into policies that may have shaped how the pandemic spread across the globe and the toll it took in lives. The lessons from history are timely as Indonesia confronts the COVID-19 pandemic and enters the holy month of Ramadan, commonly marked by mass mobility of people transiting within and across provinces. A number of lessons can be drawn for public health policies as well as issues that local governments, health practitioners, and communities should potentially consider, anticipate, and prevent to minimize the risk of exacerbating the current pandemic.


Siddharth Chandra (2013) Mortality from the influenza pandemic of 1918–19 in Indonesia, Population Studies, 67:2, 185-193


Professor Siddharth Chandra's research interests include the 1918 influenza global pandemic with a focus on Asia and the USA, behavior and policy relating to addictive substances, the intersection of economics, health, and history in Asia, and applications of portfolio theory to fields outside finance, for which the theory was originally developed. He has received funding from the National Institutes of Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation for his research, which has appeared in health-, demography-, and Asia-focused  journals, including Emerging Infectious Diseases, the American Journal of Epidemiology, Demography, Population Studies, and the Journal of Asian Studies. Dr. Chandra is the Director of the Michigan State University Asian Studies Center, Professor in James Madison College, and Professor (by courtesy) in the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics at MSU.

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