The Hong Kong flu, also known as the 1968 flu pandemic, was a flu pandemic whose outbreak in 1968 and 1969 killed an estimated 1–4 million people globally. It is among the deadliest pandemics in history, and was caused by an H3N2 strain of the influenza A virus, which is descended from H2N2 (caused the Asian flu pandemic in 1957-1958) through antigenic shift—a genetic process in which genes from multiple subtypes are reassorted to form a new virus.
Four months into the Hong Kong flu pandemic, American microbiologist Maurice Hilleman and his team had created a vaccine and more than 9 million doses had been manufactured. The same team also played a key role in developing a vaccine during the 1957-58 Asian flu pandemic.
The H3N2 virus returned during the following 1969–70 flu season, which resulted in a second, deadlier wave of deaths in Europe, Japan, and Australia. It remains in circulation today as a strain of seasonal flu.
The more things change the more they stay the same. As I have remarked before (Icons passim) 1968-69 resonates with 2020-21. Why do we remember the Summer of Love and Woodstock over and above the Hong Kong flu pandemic I wonder?
Also - while we are all patting ourselves on the back about Pfizer/BioNTech and Oxford/AstraZeneca let's revisit a sentence above: "Four months into the Hong Kong flu pandemic, American microbiologist Maurice Hilleman and his team had created a vaccine and more than 9 million doses had been manufactured. "