Survivor of Spanish Flu reveals how bad the last pandemic was

A 105-year-old man has recalled how he survived Spanish Flu – said to be the ‘deadliest event in human history’.

José Ameal Peña was four years old when the flu swept the world in 1918, killing at least 50 million people, equivalent to 200 million today.

It took the lives of 500 people in his small town of Luarca with a population of 2,000.

He said he was now watching the spread of Covid-19 with trepidation, telling Spanish newspaper El Mundo: ‘Be careful.


‘I don’t want to see the same thing repeated. It claimed so many lives.’

He is believed to be the only living survivor of the flu pandemic in Spain.

In autumn of 1918 he became the only one of his seven siblings to catch the disease.

He said: ‘I still can’t figure out how I’m here.

‘When I woke up I could barely walk. I had to crawl on my hands and knees.’

A doctor prescribed him vapours of boiled eucalyptus and seaweed to try to help with his fever that would not go down.

Thankfully he came through, but is now faced with another deadly disease sweeping the globe.

His daughter Anunciata told El Mundo: ‘He knows exactly what is happening with the coronavirus.

‘Since he lived through all that, he’s having a hard time now. He’s afraid that something similar will happen again, even though we’re living in very different times.’

Another survivor of the Spanish Flu, 107-year-old Joe Newman, lives in Sarasota in the US.

He has also spoken out about his experiences, telling NBC that people needed to look out for one another: ‘You have to be my crutch. I have to be yours. It’s been that way through every crisis we’ve had and then we find that’s what got us through.’

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