Smallpox is estimated to have killed between 300 and 500 million people in the last 2 centuries. Variola major and Variola minor are the 2 main virus variants that killed so many people. Multiple global efforts to eradicate smallpox were made in history.
Smallpox is estimated to have appeared 3 centuries before Christ in Egypt. It has killed people up to 1977. Vaccines proved the best method of eradicating the disease. Smallpox was eliminated even when vaccination occurred after infection. It is believed the smallpox vaccine is effective up to 7 days after vaccination.
Malaria has killed more than 200 million
It’s estimated that more than 214 million people died from malaria. This disease is still very deadly. In 2018, more than 400.000 people died from malaria. This virus mainly affects poor countries around the sub-Sahara and in tropical climates.
Most of those dying from malaria are kids with poor or undeveloped immune systems. A rise of deaths in pregnant women has also been noted. It’s believed pregnant women have a low immune system and are more exposed to risks of death.
Travellers are also exposed to malaria death risk. If you’re travelling to a country with high malaria cases, you should get yourself vaccinated. Most untreated travellers infected by malaria die as they don’t have a natural immune system to protect them from the virus. With a total lack of natural immunity, most cases end up as statistics. It’s estimated that 12 billion dollars are spent each year to deal with the cost of malaria. This cost involves dealing with the dead and preventing virus deaths with medication and ongoing treatments.
Other events that killed a lot of people
Apart from Smallpox, other events killed millions of people. Some are disease-related, such as with the plague. But wards have also killed hundreds of millions in history.
A recent war that has killed more than 60 million people around the world is World War II. There are many direct reasons why this war has caused so much death. Military deaths, civilian casualties, and famine are some of the reasons so many people died in WWII.
Figures are a bit unclear, but we know China and the USSR lost around 20 million people during the war. Around 7.4 million Germans have died in WWI. 6 million Poles died in the war. 3 million Japanese died in WWII. France lost around 600.000 citizens. Hungary and Romania lost around 500.000 citizens. The UK and the US also lost more than 400.000 citizens.
Viruses and political events
Both viruses and political events such as wars are responsible for killing millions. These deaths are often unrecorded and the scale of the deaths might still be unclear. Take WWII as an example. New evidence of mass-killings is found each year adding to the already high number of deaths associated with the war. Ongoing issues such as malaria also add to the hundreds of millions of deaths tied to the virus.