Articles, Blog

The 1918 Flu Pandemic – Order More Coffins – Extra History – #3

November 16, 2019

One month later… Brakes squeal, steam vents. Dr. Welch and his team are pulling
into a train station in Washington DC returning, from a grueling cross-country
inspection of military hospitals. They hope to make their report and get some rest. Instead, a soldier meets them
on the platform with new orders. Proceed immediately to Deven’s. Spanish Influenza has struck the camp. [Opening theme] Eight hours later, Welch and his team
arrive in Massachusetts. They find Camp Deven’s paralyzed. Patients fill each inch
of hospital space turning blue and coughing so hard they tear
their abdominal muscles They hemorrhage blood from their noses
and scream in fever delirium. In extreme cases, the disease has ripped
tiny holes in their lungs oxygen leaks out collecting beneath
the victims skin so they crackle
when nurses roll them over like the pop snap sound of rice-cereal. What is happening? All training has stopped. Recruits that aren’t sick have been put
into service caring for those that are. Nearly half the camp’s
medical staff is ill. Some didn’t even
show symptoms, they just collapsed. These sudden onset patients
often die within 12 hours. Those that avoid that quick death are falling
to secondary pneumonia infections. The Army has arranged special trains
to take away the dead and it’s already
showing up in Boston. After a marathon session
of autopsies revealing lungs
full of frothy blood, the team turns
to Welch. He’s the head of the
American Medical Association and has studied rare diseases
on three continents. Shaken, Welch says, “This must be some kind of new infection or plague.” Then he runs out of the room, stepping around sick men
to get to a phone. He calls his boss Army Surgeon General Gorgas. “This is going to spread.” He says, “The army needs to shut down troop movements and expand hospital space now.” Then he calls the Rockefeller Institute and orders
Dr. Oswald Avery to report to Devon’s. Avery is a peculiar man. Like Welch, he’d shown
no interest in marriage or family. But, unlike Welch who that private clubs
and vacation in Atlantic City, Avery had no hobbies
or social life. He is a single-minded obsessive, who lives in an apartment
next to the Institute and talks
only about his work. If anybody could find
the pathogen responsible, Avery could. … but they have so little time. Several things
need to happen, Welch reasons. They need to figure out
how the disease spreads and how to kill it. … and whether they could do
anything to stop it. They need to identify
the pathogen, the bacteria or toxin
that caused this disease, so they could develop a serum, antitoxin, or vaccine. And that was Avery’s task. Avery who had done such good work
on the pneumonia serum they tested in the summer, which might come in handy given all the secondary
pneumonia cases. But Welch and his team weren’t
the only ones hunting for the pathogen. Long Island, New York. The speading Board of Health Car
fishtails down the dirt road. Inside it sits the most unusual pair
in American medicine. In the passenger seat hanging on for dear life is Dr. William Park. Behind the wheel, with her foot
firmly on the accelerator, is the labs assistant director, Dr. Anna Williams. The two seem almost polar opposites. Where Park is religious, William stouts. He’s a gentleman born to high society, where she prefers driving fast cars
and riding shotgun on stunt planes. But in 25 years of collaboration, they’ve won fame for their work
on polio rabies and diphtheria. … which is why they’re speeding
towards an army base. If American doctors hope to produce a vaccine
or Serum to fight this new disease, They need Park and Williams. No one, not even
their rivals at Rockefeller, can produce vaccine
in the quantities Park can. If they isolate the pathogen, he can inject it into a horse, then draw the blood and extract the equine antibodies. and Park has a lot of horses. It’s how they made enough diphtheria antitoxin to supply every doctor in New York free of charge. They parked the car, tie on their masks, and get to work. Within hours, they’re heading
back to the city, the back seats stuffed full of throat swabs, blood samples,
and lung tissue Both teams are looking for
the same thing: Bacillus influenzae 16 years earlier, the German physician Richard Pfeiffer had identified it as the cause of influenza – a discovery so momentous that the microbe
was nicknamed “Pfeiffer’s bacillus.” But Pfeiffer’s is difficult
to identify and isolate. A tiny error in preparation
can ruin the sample, so finding it takes time. Meanwhile, army epidemiologists
are tracking the spread of the disease. They could actually
chart it on a map, jumping from base to base
along shipping routes and rail lines. Boston. Philadelphia. New York. New Orleans. Puget Sound. The Great Lakes. Sometimes, men became
so sick in transit that they had to be carried off the ships and trains
when they reached their destinations. Their initial investigation suggests
it’s severe influenza. That means it’s airborne and can survive
for hours on hard surfaces. The large number
of secondary infections indicate that it suppresses
the immune system. Surgeon General Gorgas
tries to raise the alarm. He insists his superiors freeze
all transfers and stop the troop ships. At the very least, they could hold the men
in quarantine for a week before they board. The military refuses. Germany is on their last legs,
they argue. The Austrians and the Ottomans
are rumored to be drafting peace offers. This is not the time to let up
the pressure. Nothing must distract them
or the public from the war effort. They send out
the next draft registration, forcing thousands of men across the country to crowd into civic buildings to fill out paperwork. Gorgas protests. What is the point of this? The camps have stopped all training
to deal with the outbreak. These new draftees
wouldn’t become fighting men, they’d just report
for duty and get flu. Finally, a win. The army agrees
and cancels the next draft. But it’s too late. As Gorgas battles the generals, unit commanders are already
ignoring medical advice. At Camp Grant, a doctor sits
in the Commandant’s office telling his commander that
the overcrowding situation is dangerous. He’s ignoring regulations – too many men in the barracks
and on transfer trains. The Commandant answer will seal his fate. In two weeks, the doctor
will be back in this office, telling him that 500 men are dead. The last troop train they’d sent
had turned into a plague train. 1/4 of the transfers
had to be hospitalized, and the camp
had run out of coffins. Upon hearing this the Commandant, will order
the doctor out of his office… … draw his pistol… … and take his own life. But that is two weeks from now. At this moment, he says the overcrowding
is necessary. This is war doctor But as bad as things
are in the military, they’re worse on the civilian front. The head
of the Public Health Service is in denial. He issues a useless notice
on how to avoid influenza and collects some statistics,
but does nothing more. The military worries that raising public awareness
of the flu will damage morale, and he’s not a man to stand up
to the military. And he’s not alone. In Boston, New York,
and Philadelphia, people are starting to collapse on
the street or fall from horseback. Hacking, shivering patients fill hospitals. Employee absenteeism hikes up but civic leaders refuse
to admit the growing crisis As Park and Williams raced
to identify the Pathogen, with half their staff ill
and some dying, the head of the New York Board of Health, a homeopath with
the no scientific training… … denies there’s an epidemic. In Philadelphia, the mayor and his health officials are telling
the press that the outbreak is nearly over. They continue doing so day after day as the death toll mounts
and hospital wards fill. The press buries flu reports in the back pages
to preserve wartime morale. After all, panicked citizens don’t show up
for work at the shipyard They don’t visit
their neighborhood Marine recruiter, or buy liberty loans
to fund the war effort. And that last one is important, because Philadelphia is about to throw
the largest Liberty Loan drive in the country. Soon, thousands will march through the city and hundreds of thousands will turn up to watch and chip in. Doctors urge the mayor to cancel
all public gatherings. he refuses He refuses. September 27th. There’s been progress. Welch and his team at Camp Deven’s
telephone their report to Gorgas. They found Pfeiffer’s bacillus
in a majority of the flu cases. Park and Williams confirm
the findings in their samples. Now if they can isolate
and grow a sample of Pfeiffer’s, They can begin
work on a vaccine. But Avery isn’t so sure. He’d found Pfeiffer’s,
but not consistently. In fact, he wonders
if something else is responsible: a virus
too small to see. If so, they could only hope
that when they produce the vaccine, the horse would make antibodies
for this virus as well. It was the best they could do. After making his report,
Welch boards a train to DC. It had been
a period of exhausting, dangerous work. He feels bone tired, and has a headache. The symptoms start
to show on the train ride. He switches his ticket and gets a room
at his favorite hotel in Atlantic City. He’ll remain there, delirious, in self-imposed quarantine for weeks. The most respected man
in American medicine is out of action, right when the country
needs him most. Because America was about to run out of coffins [Ending theme]


  • Reply Extra Credits July 20, 2018 at 1:52 am

    In Philadelphia, the mayor and his health officials are telling the press that the outbreak is nearly over. They continue doing so, day after day, as the death toll mounts and hospital wards fill.
    NEWS: We're running a Patreon poll right now to vote on a future Extra History series!

  • Reply Henning Witte November 13, 2018 at 10:47 pm

    The Spanish flu was deliberately spread by the USA and England:
    Geheimakte Gestapo-Müller by Gregory Douglas Band II pages 143 – 145.

  • Reply Laila S November 20, 2018 at 3:27 am

    So history repeats itself; this is the exact same thing that is appening with climate change

  • Reply maximaldinotrap November 22, 2018 at 11:48 pm

    Extra Credits, Avery sounded like he had a form of autism.

  • Reply Kiwi Boi November 24, 2018 at 11:20 pm

    That is the flag of Yemen not Germany

  • Reply Chunky Monkey November 27, 2018 at 5:13 am


  • Reply Angus MacDonald November 27, 2018 at 6:56 pm

    I have to wonder about those who gave this series a Thumbs Down…

  • Reply Otto Günsche November 30, 2018 at 8:21 pm

    The cat still confuses me why he shows up in this series

  • Reply DivineLogic21 December 2, 2018 at 12:44 pm

    What happens when people ignore science.

  • Reply issa phae December 2, 2018 at 8:42 pm

    I want a movie about Park and Williams

  • Reply Zone Doll December 4, 2018 at 9:19 pm

    Me as a nurse: *rolls over patient*
    Them: *makes snap-crackle noises like this is a fucking kellog rice krispies commercial*
    Me: hmmmmm……….that seems……………………..Not Good

  • Reply LODZZ 422 December 6, 2018 at 2:36 pm

    The ebola of 1918.

  • Reply Zain Syed December 6, 2018 at 7:49 pm

    when most people think about plagues they think about the black death…

  • Reply Nah Fam December 8, 2018 at 12:40 pm

    Omg I live in devens

  • Reply Garra love December 8, 2018 at 11:46 pm


  • Reply Sean McLean December 10, 2018 at 4:16 am

    Why is the German Empire flag always upside down

  • Reply Mckinzy Norris December 15, 2018 at 5:49 am

    please please please please never ever put moral above public health geez

  • Reply Crimson Vulpes December 16, 2018 at 12:10 am

    On the edge of my seat!
    This is so much more interesting than Grey's Anatomy!
    Why cant we get more netflix shows based on historical events like this?

  • Reply the Were Dragon December 16, 2018 at 6:59 am

    I want more on those two doctors

  • Reply Storm Anteater December 16, 2018 at 4:22 pm

    WHAT ARE YOU! WHAT MADE YOU! Was my favorite part for some reason.

  • Reply Lord Pretzel December 17, 2018 at 1:37 am


  • Reply Susana Lee December 21, 2018 at 3:51 pm

    Army doctors go “We have a bad disease! You should stop all transport and stuff!” And the government say “ A…. Nope!”



  • Reply Oswald Marc RogersTM December 25, 2018 at 5:01 am

    This has to be my favorite Extra History series. Next to Genghis Khan and the Cuban Missile Crisis.

  • Reply CHEESY CHIPMUNK December 26, 2018 at 4:15 am

    2:15 Rip I feel you Avery

  • Reply Jasper Von Luvenstein December 27, 2018 at 7:40 pm

    3:16 like from valient hearts?

  • Reply M Soda December 30, 2018 at 3:54 am

    Over the summer my county found a forgotten mass flu grave

  • Reply Jimmy Jimmerson January 1, 2019 at 6:34 pm

    Man this would be horrific to live through

  • Reply OP Crowbar January 4, 2019 at 3:29 am

    i love how the guy is so sad and dramatic at the end but everyone else has a shit eating grin 9:38

  • Reply Alan (Student) GU January 5, 2019 at 12:21 pm

    Most enlightening video

  • Reply Alan (Student) GU January 5, 2019 at 12:21 pm

    Make more videos! 🙂

  • Reply LJC January 7, 2019 at 12:59 pm

    Let's stop for a moment and honour the work of coffin makers.

  • Reply 352lightning January 8, 2019 at 6:53 pm

    The fact that I got an ad for cold and flu medicine on this video is immensely entertaining

  • Reply Charlie Spurr January 18, 2019 at 7:11 pm

    Snap! Crackle! Pop! Spanish Flu!

  • Reply daddy war bucks January 20, 2019 at 6:11 am

    I believe my great grandfather was one of the final draft

  • Reply Gregory Yang January 20, 2019 at 11:48 pm

    Vaccines cause autism. No vaccines cause death.

  • Reply Foxhound_90 January 22, 2019 at 2:18 am

    2:05 "Avery is a peculiar man". LOL! I love that bit. The tone of voice describing him, and the caricature of Avery with a blank face is just priceless!

  • Reply Roberto Chacon January 22, 2019 at 10:11 pm

    Homeopathy: killing people since it exists!

  • Reply Waleed Afzal January 27, 2019 at 3:35 pm

    Politricks created the mass graves.
    At least they did us a favor in killing off a hundred million people that would've brought today's planet at 8-9 billion instead of what I think is 7.8 million.

  • Reply Morahman7vnNo2 February 5, 2019 at 5:07 am

    They died from pride and negligence.

  • Reply Braden Chittick February 7, 2019 at 2:24 pm

    Is there any chance you can list your sources in the description?

  • Reply Brionn Currier February 9, 2019 at 2:13 am

    Snap, crackle, pop, influenza

  • Reply Alonzo Branson February 11, 2019 at 6:52 am

    Prime example of the 'Tombstone Mentality'. Refusal to do anything unless someone dies.

  • Reply Petr Maly February 11, 2019 at 7:49 pm

    A homeopath… Good thing that today people know that homeopathy is a swindle and we use proper medication and vaccinate our kids… Wait, what?

  • Reply John Frade February 12, 2019 at 3:50 am

    This sounds like a good tv series with a bunch of sub plots

  • Reply Wf Coaker February 12, 2019 at 2:16 pm

    In the community of Okak in northern Labrador, which is now a part of Canada, the flu came on the last boat of the year before the ice closed the community off for the winter. People began dying a few days later. The ground was frozen, they couldn’t bury the bodies, and besides, after a while, there weren’t enough well people to dig graves. Dogs ate the bodies. One woman went into a neighbour’s house to warm up by the stove. She sat down and died. A family had gone into the woods to check their trap lines. When they were found, they were all dead, except for their young daughter who had kept the wolves and dogs from eating the bodies of her family. When it was over, the remaining population was moved to a community called Nain. The people of Nain said you could always tell the people from Okak, because they never smiled again.

  • Reply Gavin Goodrich February 13, 2019 at 7:01 am

    Ok, i'll bite. what's the deal with the black cat?

  • Reply Nancy O'Malley February 14, 2019 at 3:40 am

    @ 3:03 Yay, Long Island!

  • Reply Dr.Bright February 14, 2019 at 4:26 am

    A plague like this is what anti-vaccine people will cause.

  • Reply Darth Borehd February 14, 2019 at 3:49 pm

    Homeopathy quackery was responsible for killing millions.

  • Reply ABortnite February 14, 2019 at 4:31 pm

    this flu sucks

  • Reply zaco 2121 February 15, 2019 at 2:00 pm

    Americans weren't so exposed to the flu virus. This is why it was so lethal.

  • Reply roguedogx February 24, 2019 at 5:37 pm

    this is not the ideal thing to be watching while I'm pretty sure I'm coming down with the flu.

    but, logic has never stopped me before so why start now?

  • Reply emily bulla March 1, 2019 at 5:19 pm

    I want a medical comedie about Park and Williams. It sounds hilarious.

  • Reply Crazy Lime March 3, 2019 at 5:36 am

    "the most respected man in American medicine is out of action, right when the country needs him most"
    Me: (shivers) holy shit this is like some epic battle scene

  • Reply Poopin Finoopin March 10, 2019 at 12:00 pm

    Looks like, when the US adopts socialized health care, we will be in good hands. The government and military are so full of smart and wise people who totally have our interest at heart and are fast and efficient.

  • Reply Khyler King March 13, 2019 at 2:07 pm

    yeet flu came

  • Reply Celty McCladden March 15, 2019 at 4:28 am

    My Grandma survived the Flu! She was the only one out of 13 children to live the first wave of the flu!! Later on my Great Grandma ended up giving birth to 3 more kids only for her to succumb to the second wave of the flu. ?

  • Reply Whitemares March 19, 2019 at 8:26 pm

    The fact that some of these people had that, “Meh” attitude about this epidemic makes me ?!! Also the fact that the military was trying to force a draft through. . . GAAAA!! ???

  • Reply Jesinchen March 20, 2019 at 1:31 pm

    So basically america killed his civilians and soldiers to boost their moral to kill more germans. Ethical as ever.

  • Reply Dorkfish March 24, 2019 at 6:35 am

    Anti-vaxx people: LIES
    people with a brain and a pinch of psychoticness: Maybe we'll be lucky and only all of you will die to this.

  • Reply Lloyd Nix March 24, 2019 at 10:12 pm

    4:09 Well minus what the tax payers payed for the horses.

  • Reply Orius25 April 2, 2019 at 11:34 pm

    In almost all these history videos, the deadly political situations are made 1000x worse by politicians and military leaders who refuse to think beyond themselves. That's the #1 lesson I take from this — our world leaders are NOT competent to deal with stuff like this! If something bad happens, don't wait for them to act!

  • Reply Brandon1629ESUHSD April 4, 2019 at 11:40 pm

    Looks like a new war.

  • Reply applezz April 8, 2019 at 10:49 am

    What if there was a plague that acted like nuclear radiation but worse yikes!

  • Reply Its Sean April 19, 2019 at 1:55 am

    why do the main people like the doctor that is with the name never die from the disease

  • Reply cris 14 April 19, 2019 at 9:53 pm

    do horses have exeptuinally strong immune systems?? cause they always use horses to make vaccines and anti-venom.

  • Reply Brodie Kiely April 21, 2019 at 5:00 am

    Just wow

  • Reply Alexander Rodriguez y Gibson May 3, 2019 at 2:09 am

    Why are you making this so hard Walpole?

  • Reply Orestria May 6, 2019 at 3:36 am

    Thank god we listen to Doctors and scientists these days.
    Right guys?

  • Reply tomfish May 8, 2019 at 11:05 pm

    Avery sounds like an aspie

  • Reply shooting star May 29, 2019 at 9:31 pm

    I know they didn't know at the time but: bruh ?

  • Reply Owen Line June 3, 2019 at 2:58 am

    snap crakcl pop

  • Reply Owen Line June 3, 2019 at 3:07 am

    doc how are you man yo im strait up not having a good time

  • Reply Beckett June 8, 2019 at 9:48 pm

    If the Spanish Flu emerges again Kellogg's is really going to have to rethink its Rice Krispies slogan.

  • Reply Sir. Purple June 15, 2019 at 12:34 am


  • Reply Tom Kelly June 15, 2019 at 4:38 am

    Avery also proved that DNA was the molecule carrying hereditary genes. Fighting epidemics was his side hustle.

  • Reply Hannah Shin June 30, 2019 at 12:03 am

    At 4:03 I thought “I got the horses in the back”

  • Reply Bloxing Noob ZERO June 30, 2019 at 8:11 am


  • Reply Daniel Bell July 7, 2019 at 11:06 pm

    Like Plague Inc, MOVE TO GREENLAND

  • Reply Nightshade the Mochi Raptor July 19, 2019 at 7:33 pm

    How have i lived my whole life without a flu vaccine and no my parents use vaccines cause of my brother with kidney failure

  • Reply bellringer July 23, 2019 at 6:44 pm

    Given the fact that we are so close to vaccines not being viable anymore this series chilled me to the bone ?

  • Reply triple D July 29, 2019 at 2:30 am

    Why germany flag upside down

  • Reply christian couto August 5, 2019 at 9:25 am

    Docter avery sounds like Dr shledon cooper

  • Reply NyanCatWorld Cat August 14, 2019 at 7:53 pm

    8:25 no?only me?Ok..

  • Reply chaz FPS August 18, 2019 at 1:12 am

    Good god I never realised it got this bad

  • Reply eleanor ding August 29, 2019 at 2:09 am

    Why let a little pandemic get in the way of a good war effort?

  • Reply Raibaru Fumetsu September 1, 2019 at 2:17 am


    me: but diseases cause DEATH

  • Reply Raibaru Fumetsu September 1, 2019 at 2:17 am

    Funeral Homes: STONKS

  • Reply Raibaru Fumetsu September 1, 2019 at 2:20 am

    John Snow: Umm, this plague is spreading guys

    Military Doctors: YOU KNOW NOTHING JOHN SNOW!

  • Reply Siobhan Riley September 14, 2019 at 1:25 am

    1:18 is there a cat in the background? I think I hear a purr

  • Reply sleeping kirbo September 22, 2019 at 10:20 am

    Spanish flu:*exist*
    Coffin company:*STONK*

  • Reply Delete Me September 22, 2019 at 6:29 pm

    Ah yes human rice crispys

  • Reply Borderlands the ultimate Good player September 27, 2019 at 11:20 am

    I watched this episode on September 27

  • Reply nuagor September 29, 2019 at 4:31 pm


  • Reply Hahonryuu October 1, 2019 at 1:52 am

    Why did they have have doctors and surgeon generals and the like if they were just going to ignore them?

  • Reply UnfavorableMemes October 4, 2019 at 12:04 am

    Did it get Iceland

  • Reply Artemis Fowl IX October 17, 2019 at 4:26 pm


  • Reply Alfa&Omega 00000 October 19, 2019 at 3:01 pm

    "The head of New York board of Health an homeopath…"
    Oh great,an homeopath! What can go wrong?

  • Reply Cohesive Adhesive October 30, 2019 at 10:25 pm

    You have ruined Rice Crispies…

  • Reply mon0railbredpig October 31, 2019 at 8:10 am

    Can you link the next and previous video in the description? It's really difficult to find the next video. For instance #2 in the series doesn't have a link to #3. And this seems to be consistent for all your series.

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