Throughout the ages epidemics and war have sown discord and terrors. However, where many see wanton death and destruction others see the opportunity to grow and thrive, current pandemic included. What can we learn about success from the past?

If you think we’re going to go back to an economy that remotely resembles before COVID-19, just take a look at the Black Death in the 1300s. The plague is estimated to have killed 30-60% of the population in Europe and changed the economic and social structure in the region. This led to the birth of a middle class, also sparking interest in literacy, art, and experimentation.

One might posit that the arts would not have been as prominent if not for the epidemic, opening up a new flourishing sector for art consumption. In 1592, a benefactor of the arts, Shakespeare, faced an outbreak of the plague. With the theatres closed for 6 months, he turned to poetry for income.

The playing field was different, and as they say “when life gives you lemons…” Shakespeare later witnessed another outbreak 14 years later, during which he wrote some of his famed works, King Lear, Macbeth, and Antony & Cleopatra. It’s times like we find ourselves in to innovate and adapt.

In 1918 a deadly strain of influenza infected 1 in 3 people worldwide. By the time authorities recognized the pandemic, it was too late for measures like quarantine to be effective.

  • By 1925 all states were participating in a new national disease reporting system
  • By 1935 the U.S. deployed its first national health survey
  • By 1945 the first effective flu vaccine was discovered

If you can’t capitalize on the situation at least learn from your mistakes.

During our pandemic, innovation is ripe for those who can take it. In Italy, when a hospital ran out of ventilator valves, Isinnova, a local 3D printing business, came to the rescue. They printed the original $10,000 part for just $1 per print. Isinnova also designed an adapter to turn snorkeling masks into C-PAP masks for non-invasive oxygen therapy.

Sometimes you need to apply yourself in ways that you never thought of before. Thankfully we can see some good coming out of this global crisis through such innovations. What other innovations will come out from the COVID-19 pandemic? Only you can decide.

Learn more about the innovations being made in light of Coronavirus here!

Epidemics and Innovation

Infographic Source: Top Masters In Public Health