Epidemic vs Pandemic: How are they Different?

4 minute read
Epidemic vs Pandemic

Back in the month of March, the honourable director-general of the World Health Organisation (WHO) made a public announcement regarding the spread of novel coronavirus, SARS- CoV- 2. Owing to the complexity of the situation, he declared it a world pandemic. Haven’t you thought that why pandemic was used for this outbreak instead of an epidemic? If yes, then let us move further with our blog on epidemic vs pandemic and help resolve this ambiguity. 

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What is an Epidemic? 

In the discussion over epidemic vs pandemic, it is important to know that the word epidemic is associated with a disease that is affecting a large number of people at the same time while spreading from one person to another in a close locality where it was not permanently prevalent. As per WHO’s definition, an epidemic occurs at the level of a community or region. Some popular epidemics are Measles, Smallpox, Cholera, Polio, Typhoid, Yellow Fever, HIV. 

Generally, the word epidemic is used to describe the ‘temporary prevalence of a disease’. In the word epidemic, Epi is a prefix meaning later and Demic comes from demos meaning people of a district. Further, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) describes epidemic as a sudden increase in the number of cases of a particular disease in a particular geographical area.  

When does an Epidemic occur? 

In our discussion of epidemic vs pandemic, after understanding the meaning of what is an epidemic, we will now look at some points related to when do epidemics occur- 

  • When an outside agent carrying infectious disease unexpectedly becomes prevalent in a particular area 
  • Whenever a disease spreads from one region to another where the infectious agent was not present, through an outbreak
  • When people around a local area suddenly get contaminated with the infectious agent and start getting sick from it

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What is Pandemic? 

While talking about epidemic vs pandemic, we should know that in contrast to an epidemic, pandemic refers to a disease or an epidemic that has spread across a relatively larger area such as an entire country, continent or the whole world. The WHO has mainly defined it as ‘A worldwide spread of new disease’. Examining the severity of covid-19 virus, WHO, on 11th March 2020, declared it as a global pandemic. 

The general bifurcation will help you get a better idea of what is pandemic in our discussion of epidemic vs pandemic. Pandemic is derived from Pandemos meaning common or public. Pandemic is used for the diseases that have spread in an entire nation or excessively large landmasses including the entire continent. 

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The WHO has laid down six phases leading to the development of a pandemic, let us understand them- 

  • Circulation of Virus
  • Detection of Virus in Animals
  • Animal-to-Human Contact 
  • Human-to-Human Contact 
  • Human-to-Human Spread 
  • Community Level Outbreaks

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Epidemic vs Pandemic: How are they Different? 

The major criteria upon which the epidemic and pandemic can be distinguished is the breadth of their reach. Pandemics usually cover a wider classical area as compared to an epidemic. Also, it is believed that more number of people are infected, hence, causing a great number of deaths through pandemic than an epidemic. It is also believed that pandemic usually leads to social disruption, economic losses and general hardships. 

Another prominent factor that creates an outbreak into a pandemic is the intensity of its infection. Pandemics are always caused by a new variety of virus or strains of viruses that are mainly unknown to the immune system of humans as well as animals. This is the major point of distinction between epidemic vs pandemic, as epidemics tend to involve agents that are already prevalent in a community. Along with COVID 19, Spanish influenza in 1918- 1919 is a great example of a very deadly pandemic in recent history.

Thus, we hope that through our detailed blog on epidemic vs pandemic, you are not familiar with the right usage of both the words. In these tough times, seeking the right guidance to study abroad can help one get started in their dream field. Get in touch with our experts at Leverage Edu and they will help you in getting aligned with the career path of your choice. Book your free e-meeting with us today! 

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