Man born during Spanish flu pandemic recovered from coronavirus

AP/Andrew Medichini

This guy’s immune system is something else: A 101-year-old man in Italy, born during the Spanish flu pandemic, contracted the coronavirus and survived the illness it causes, COVID-19.

Known only as “Mr. P.,” he’d been hospitalized in Rimini, in northeast Italy. He was released late last week, and the town’s deputy mayor shared his story as a symbol of hope.

“Mr. P made it,” said Gloria Lisi. “To teach us that even at 101 years the future is not written.”

It’s amazing that Mr. P, who was born in 1919, survived both pandemics. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Mr. P. was in a high-risk category during both of them — the first time because he was an infant, the second time as a senior citizen.

Edward A. "Doc" Rogers/Library of Congress via AP

In the 1918 pandemic — nicknamed the Spanish flu because Spain was one of the first countries to acknowledge the disease, though the country was not its origination point — the virus is estimated to have killed at least 50 million people around the world, according to the CDC. The National Institutes of Health estimates that more than 2.5 million Europeans died from that flu. Italy was particularly hard-hit.

While Mr. P survived both pandemics, others have not been so lucky.

In the United Kingdom, another Spanish flu survivor succumbed to COVID-19 complications over the weekend.

Hilda Churchill, age 108, died just after testing positive for COVID-19.

“She said [the coronavirus] was very similar to the Spanish flu but in her day there were no planes and somehow it still managed to spread everywhere,” Anthony Churchill, her grandson, shared with The Guardian.

U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command/AP

Hilda told her grandson that most of her family contracted the Spanish flu. Her father was so ill he collapsed in the street at one point, and Hilda’s infant sister died of the illness.

“It was never something she talked about being frightened of, though, and she was scared of this new virus,” Anthony Churchill said. “She had been with me all of my life — she was just the best and we are totally heartbroken.”

Visit the CDC’s coronavirus site for current guidelines and information about the pandemic.

Disease & Illness, Good News, Health, News

Related posts

Nobel Prize winners Katalin Kariko and Drew Weissman
Nobel Prize in medicine awarded to developers of mRNA in COVID vaccines
What's the difference between Parmigiano-Reggiano and Parmesan?
Jillian Michaels
Jillian Michaels and DeShanna Marie Minuto wed in Italy
Nonnas in Bari, Italy, making fresh pasta
Italian town's 'nonnas' make pasta outside their homes every day

About the Author
Kathleen St. John
Kathleen St. John is a freelance journalist. She lives in Denver with her husband, two kids and a fiercely protective Chihuahua.

From our partners