Ever since the COVID-19 outbreak, people have been using the words epidemic and pandemic more than ever. However, they often confuse the two terms and use them inaccurately but it is understandable because both the terms have been used for disease outbreaks. As much as it sounds ignorant, one of the common reasons why people use the two words interchangeably is that they end with ‘demic.’ Epidemic and pandemic are anything but two words having similar meanings. Let’s clear the confusion between pandemic, endemic and epidemic in the easiest way.
Endemics happen when a disease is restricted to a particular location or population. A disease is called endemic when a particular section of the population getting affected by it remains relatively constant over time. The number of cases may differ for a particular area over the years but only on an insignificant scale. Also, the infected cases may be higher in that one area as compared to other regions. One example of endemic is Malaria, which affects millions of people worldwide every year but the highest number of cases are recorded from the tropics.
When a disease affects many people at the same time and spreads from one to another within a community, population, or region where it isn’t that prevalent, it is called an epidemic. It may happen after endemic, meaning that the number of infected cases in that particular region crosses the normally expected level. Epidemic is restricted to a certain region, where a virus mutates and spreads rapidly to many people. Epidemic is different from endemic because the number of cases is much higher than normal in the former and the virus mutates quickly in that particular region. For example, when COVID-19 was spreading rapidly in China, it was an epidemic. When it reached all over the world, it became a pandemic.
Pandemic happens on a much larger scale, i.e worldwide. A pandemic is a spread of a virus throughout an entire continent or the whole world. COVID-19 became pandemic when it affected people from all over the world, continuously mutating and spreading rapidly. A pandemic may last for a few weeks or for several years and is caused by a new virus or a strain of that virus against which people have no immunity. The mortality rate in pandemic is much higher compared to epidemics and endemics. Other than COVID-19, the influenza pandemic of 1918-1919 is another example of a pandemic.