From the archive

How Nature reported the flu epidemic in 1919 and a threat to science funding in 1969.

50 Years Ago

By all appearances, the year ahead has the smell of unpleasantness, certainly for those whose interests lie in professional science … In Britain and in the United States, there has recently been a noticeable reluctance of politicians to spend their electors’ taxes in such a way as to increase the funds available for university research … So what are universities going to do? Will they return to shoestring research, or will they, as they should, set out to create much closer links between publicly supported laboratories and the universities which are frequently alongside them?

From Nature 4 January 1969

100 Years Ago

It was stated recently … that the toll of pain and death due to causes which are more or less preventable may be gauged in terms comparable with those demanded by the sufferings directly attributable to war … The pandemic of influenza recently experienced may be taken as an illustration of the need for wide-embracing and well-organised research work in preventive medicine, and particularly in epidemiology … According to the medical correspondent to the Times of December 18 and 19, 1918, there is good reason to estimate the world’s death-roll from influenza and pneumonia at not fewer than 6,000,000 lives, at which rate he points out that this epidemic has been five times as deadly as the war during the same period of three months. Now a visitation on such a scale as this, in which many of the victims are in the prime of their lives, is comparable with the great plagues of the Middle Ages, and, coming at such a time as the present, is catastrophic from whatever point of view it may be regarded.

From Nature 2 January 1919

doi: 10.1038/d41586-018-07852-6

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