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Innovations Spurred By Past Epidemics

The difficulties of past pandemics have led to ground-breaking innovations that have pushed the world forward in both societal and economic realms. As we await the passing of COVID-19, let’s reflect on the results of previous outbreaks.

The Black Death, igniting in the mid-1300s, killed an estimated 30-60% of Europe’s population. However, the long-lasting outbreak went on to spark interest in literacy, art, and experimentation. In 1665-166, the last major wave of Black Death hit England, causing Newton to flee to the countryside to avoid contraction. Here, he developed many of his theories still studied today: optics, laws of motion, and gravity.

In 1721, The Boston Smallpox Epidemic began, infecting 11,000 and killing 850. During this time, dwellers got creative with their survival, leading to the spread of variolation. By taking the pus from a lesion of an infected patient and using it to inoculate a healthy individual, mortality rates reduced from 14% to 2%. This became a monumental first step towards vaccines.

As COVID-19 spreads, the shortage of protective equipment and medical ventilators becomes more apparent. Find out how pandemics create room for innovation below.

Epidemics and Innovation


Brian Wallace is the Founder and President of NowSourcing, an industry leading infographic design agency , based in Louisville, KY and Cincinnati, OH which works with companies that range from startups to Fortune 500s. Brian also runs #LinkedInLocal events nationwide, hosts the Next Action Podcast, and has been named a Google Small Business Advisor for 2016-2018. Follow Brian Wallace on LinkedIn as well as Twitter.

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