Next webinar (12 May, 1600 CET)

Carolyn Orbann, University of Missouri, will present “Co-circulating respiratory diseases at the end of the 1918 influenza pandemic.”

The 2020-2021 flu season was among the lowest on record, largely due to the wide circulation of COVID-19 and the measures in place for pandemic control. In this talk, I will present evidence on a variety of respiratory diseases circulating in the US state of Missouri during the 1918 flu pandemic. We will discuss how mortality rates from diseases that typically cause predictable mortality were impacted by the influenza pandemic and how we might understand those changes using a syndemic framework.

Carolyn Orbann is Associate Teaching Professor of Health Sciences at the University of Missouri – Columbia. Her current research interests include infectious disease in historic human populations and the impact of culture on disease spread. She uses historic data, including primary and secondary sources, to understand epidemics in the past, primarily 1918 flu and diseases of colonization in 18th century California. She uses computer simulation models to test ideas about the impact of human culture on infectious disease dynamics. 

Contact for a Zoom link.

Next Webinar 5 May

On 5 May at 1600 CET, Vibeke Narverud Nyborg, University of South-Eastern Norway and PANSOC, will present Different approaches to Public Health Legislation as means in fighting the influenza pandemic 1918 to 1920.

In the decades prior to the outbreak of the influenza pandemic in 1918, Norway had a significant development and focus on public health, including national health legislation and organizing the administration of public health. These legislations were based on international development of medicine, understanding disease and infection, and preventive measures in addition to national uniqueness. Despite this, disagreement and different local solutions to the major health threat caused by the pandemic seem to characterize the use of national legislation as a driving force in fighting the influenza pandemic in Norway. In this presentation I focus on different approaches to explore and understand how national legislation was used, and within what framework local authorities based their decision in trying to fight the influenza pandemic between 1918 and 1920.

Vibeke Narverud Nyborg is Associate Professor in the History of Medicine and Health at University of South-Eastern Norway (USN). Since August 2021, she has been Associate Professor II at PANSOC, working with historical pandemics, focusing specifically on the 1918 flu and national legislation. She has a PhD from USN from 2020 where she focused on conceptual meaning making in historical education of doctors and nurses. For further information, please see her profile on LinkedIn:

Contact for a Zoom link.

Next webinar April 21

The next PANSOC webinar will be on April 21 at 1600. Jord Hanus, University of Antwerp, will present “Socioeconomic Status and Epidemic Mortality in an Urban Environment (Mechelen, Belgium): Were Dysentery (1794) and Cholera (1866) Socially Neutral Diseases?”

In this paper, we present some of the first results of the project on Epidemics and Inequality in Belgium, investigating socio-economic gradients in (epidemic) mortality for the mid-sized town of Mechelen (or Malines). We study the social profiles of the victims of two large outbreaks (dysentery in 1794 and cholera in 1866) in comparison with regular mortality in an attempt to map the ‘epidemic mortality premium’. This analysis connects various strands of literature, pushing our understanding of the health gradient further back in time as well as providing a detailed long-term understanding of an early-modern urban mortality regime, both in times of (epidemiological) crisis and in demographically less eventful periods.

Jord’s bio: “Since September 2021 I work as postdoc researcher on the EPIBEL project (, which allows me to combine my passion for the study of inequalities in economic and social development with a very topical theme: the societal impact of epidemics. Before, I wrote a PhD (2006-2010) and worked as postdoc (2010-2013) on economic growth and inequality in the early modern Low Countries. Until 2021 I then served as Head of the Research Affairs Office of the UAntwerp’s Dept. of Research Affairs & Innovation (ADOC).”

Contact for a link.

Next PANSOC webinar

On April 7, Amanda Wissler will present “The Long-Term Impacts of Pandemic Disease: Health and Survival after the 1918 Influenza Pandemic.”

This presentation explores how the 1918 pandemic caused long-term alterations to population health and demography in the United States. Taking a bioarchaeological approach, I analyze frailty and survival using the skeletal remains of individuals who died before and after the 1918 pandemic. 

Amanda Wissler, PhD, is an NSF Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of South Carolina and a Visiting Researcher at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History. 

Contact for a link.

Next Webinar March 31

At 1600 Oslo time, Lianne Tripp, University of Northern British Columbia, will present:

Overlooking the demographic data: COVID-19 in First Nations in Canada

Previous studies on Indigenous populations and COVID-19 have argued for the need to collect COVID-19 data on Indigenous populations because during times of pandemics they experience more severe health outcomes in relation to their non-Indigenous counterparts. Counterintuitively, studies have found that the COVID-19 rates for some countries (such as in Canada) are higher in non-Indigenous population than Indigenous populations. A re-examination of COVID-19 in Canada reveals misinterpretations and misrepresentations of the data. The failure to recognize that the Canadian COVID-19 data for Indigenous populations was collected for First Nations living on reserves only is one misinterpretation. By end of December 2020, the prevalence rates were higher in First Nations populations living on reserves than non-First Nations populations, and COVID-19 mortality rates in First Nations exceeded the rest of the country by the end of April 2021. There was also considerable regional variation in rates of COVID-19 among First Nations communities across the country, where in western Canada the highest rates were observed.  

Dr Tripp is a medical anthropologist, whose research involves the areas of historical demography and epidemiology (infectious diseases). Emphasis is given to combining an empirical approach with a bio-cultural lens on demographic, primary health reports and qualitative information from historical records. Lianne’s publications have dealt with such matters as: colonial health; disease risk; bio-cultural dimensions of epidemics and pandemics; age and sex/gender differentials in disease experience; and health and religiosity. The diseases of focus are cholera, COVID-19,  measles, 1918 pandemic influenza, tuberculosis, undulant fever, whooping cough, and yellow fever.