Was the mysterious ‘Russian flu’ actually a coronavirus? Some scientists think so.

In 1889, a mysterious respiratory illness emerged in Russia and then spread across the globe, triggering at least three waves of infection over the course of several years. Now, some scientists suspect that this illness, dubbed the “Russian flu,” actually may have been caused by a pandemic coronavirus similar to SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, The New York Times reported.

There are some easily drawn parallels between the two pandemics. For instance, during the Russian flu pandemic, schools and workplaces closed due to the sheer number of people infected. Those infected often lost their senses of taste and smell, and some endured long-lasting symptoms that lingered for months. In general, the Russian flu seemed to kill far more elderly people than children, unlike influenza viruses, which tend to be similarly fatal to both age groups, according to the available historical records, which include government health records, newspapers and journal articles.

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