IATE Term of the Week: Pandemic

March 13, 2020 9:30 am

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The IATE term of the week is « Pandemic », which is the next stage of an epidemic. It has its origin in the Greek pan (‘all’) and demos (‘people’) and is used to describe “an epidemic occurring worldwide, or over a very wide area, crossing international boundaries and usually affecting a large number of people”. A pandemic is therefore an outbreak of a new pathogen that spreads easily from person to person across the globe and on a whole or several continents. It does not refer to its potency or deadliness. The disease must also be infectious to be qualified as a pandemic (for example cancer affects many people around the world but as it is not infectious, it is not a pandemic.)

Unlike an epidemic – an event in which a disease is actively spreading – the term pandemic relates to geographic spread.

The only current pandemic is HIV/AIDS, which is going on for 40 years.

It has not been confirmed whether the novel coronavirus – Covid-19 – will be classified as a pandemic or not, but it said to be on the verge of reaching that stage.

You can see above the interactive web-based dashboard hosted by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) at Johns Hopkins University, to visualize and track reported cases in real-time.

According to the World Health Organisation pandemic preparedness plan, a response to a pandemic would require national governments to action the “full mobilisation of health systems, facilities, and workers at national and subnational levels”, to “distribute personal protective equipment” and to “distribute antivirals and other medical supplies in accordance with national plans”.

pandemic iate


The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hokins Hospital, systems.jhu.edu/research/public-health/ncov/. Accessed on March 2020. 

Coronavirus COVID-19 Global Cases by Johns Hopkins CSSE.

arcgis.com/apps/opsdashboard/index.html#/bda7594740fd40299423467b48e9ecf6. Accessed on March 2020.  

Bulletin of the World Health Organization. who.int/bulletin/volumes/89/7/11-088815/en/. Accessed on March 2020. 

Pandemic preparedness. who.int/influenza/preparedness/pandemic/en/. Accessed on March 2020.

Eva Gozlan

Written by Eva Gozlan. Born in 1995 in France, Eva obtained a Bachelor’s degree in Applied Foreign Languages and is currently validating her Master’s degree in Translation and International Communication at ISIT School. She carried out two projects with Termcoord before joining as a trainee, “Smart Cities” for IATE in 2019 and “Racontez-moi la culture Européenne” in 2020.

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