26 May 2020 (online)
The disease COVID-19 affects us all and we see the influence of the virus SARS-CoV-2 on our life, society, and economy. A look at the recent past shows that the current pandemic is not a single event in the history of virus infections. For example, the Spanish flu (1918 – 1920), with an estimated 17 – 100 million deaths, is only 100 years old. Until today, more Influenza outbreaks were reported (e.g., London, 1972 – 1973) and we were lucky that others like the avian flu (pandemic since 1997) have not crossed the species border so far. Far more dramatic is the infection with HIV, which has led to the HIV/AIDS pandemic since 1983. Far unnoticed is the high number of infections with hepatitis and papilloma viruses, which have also reached pandemic proportions. Further waves of infection with poliovirus (measles), which have been increasing locally at a worrying rate for years, and the repeated occurrence of Ebola and Dengue show that viral diseases are a challenge for medicine.