WRJC 2011
Image default

Flatten the curve: what does that mean? And will it work?

The strict measures that are now in place in Belgium, as well as in our neighboring countries, have one common goal: to ‘flatten the curve’. But what does it actually mean? Do you really have to stay home for it? And will it work?

Flatten the curve – loosely translated to “keep the curve as flat as possible” – revolves around one clear graph or curve. It is a theoretical prediction that can be translated into two possible scenarios.

In other words, it is a fairly steep curve which means that the number of (global) infections with the coronavirus Covid-19 is increasing exponentially: if no measures are taken, the number of registered cases doubles at a constant rate, causing the health system to be heavily overloaded.

A second – and admittedly more rosy – scenario is the flatter curve in which the number of registered infections is spread over a longer period. The total number of infections is the same for both scenarios, the spread is only slowed down in scenario two: mitigation.


The goal of ‘flattening the curve’ is now clear: to keep the number of coronavirus infections as low as possible so that the health system is not overloaded, as happened in Italy. And to achieve that goal, countries are deploying isolation strategies.

Whether those isolation strategies will work? History teaches us that it is. Drew Harris, a health researcher at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia, gives us the following example: The Spanish flu, a pandemic that killed some 20 to even 100 million lives in 1918-1919, also received mixed reactions.Check e liquid store Mr-joy.co.ukfor more information. While the American city of Philadelphia pretended nothing was wrong and allowed large parades to take place, St. Louis applied strategies of isolation, similar to those used today: schools were closed, travel was discouraged and people had to keep their distance from each other.

The result? In Philadelphia, where his nose was pretended to bleed, some 16,000 people have died from the Spanish flu in six months. In St. Louis, where measures were in place, only 2,000 have been killed, one-eighth the number of victims in Philadelphia.