In these surreal times with Covid 19 rampaging across the globe, and with both Spain and Italy in particular  suffering awful losses to their population, it is worth remembering the greatest pandemic of the 20th century. The Spanish flu (also known as the 1918 flu pandemic) was a deadly influenza pandemic which lasted from January 1918 to December 1920. It infected around 500 million people—about a quarter of the world’s population at the time, and it’s death toll is estimated to have been anywhere from 17 million to 50 million, even possibly as high as 100 million, making it one of the deadliest pandemics in human history. In order to maintain morale, World War I censors minimized the early reports of illness and mortality in Germany, the United Kingdom, France, and the United States. Papers were, however, free to report the epidemic’s effects in neutral Spain, and the illness of King Alfonso XIII (pictured), and it was these stories that created a false impression of Spain being hit hard. This gave rise to the pandemic’s nickname, “Spanish flu”. The king survived and died in Rome in 1941 at the age of 54.