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Visualized: the World’s Deadliest Pandemics by Population Impact

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Deadliest Pandemics By Population Impact

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The Briefing

  • As of May 27, 2021, COVID has claimed the lives of almost 3.5 million people worldwide
  • That’s 0.04% of the global population
  • We’ll be updating this graphic as the current pandemic continues

Visualizing the World’s Deadliest Pandemics

Humanity has been battling against disease for centuries.

And while most contagious outbreaks have never reached full-blown pandemic status, there have been several times throughout history when a disease has caused mass devastation.

Here’s a look at the world’s deadliest pandemics to date, viewed from the lens of the impact they had on the global population at the time.

Editor’s note: The above graphic was created in response to a popular request from users after viewing our popular history of pandemics infographic initially released a year ago.

Death Toll, by Percent of Population

In the mid-1300s, a plague known as the Black Death claimed the lives of roughly 200 million people—more than 50% of the global population at that time.

Here’s how the death toll by population stacks up for other significant pandemics, including COVID-19 so far.

PandemicDeath Toll by % of PopulationYear of Population Estimate
Black Death51.0%1300
Plague of Justinian19.1%500
Smallpox12.1%1500
Antonine Plague2.6%200
Spanish Flu2.5%1919
The Third Plague1.0%1850
HIV/AIDS0.7%1981
COVID-190.04%2021 (as of May 27)

The specific cause of the Black Death is still up for debate. Many experts claim the 14th-century pandemic was caused by a bubonic plague, meaning there was no human-to-human transmission, while others argue it was possibly pneumonic.

Interestingly, the plague still exists today—however, it’s significantly less deadly, thanks to modern antibiotics.

History Repeats, But at Least We Keep Learning

While we clearly haven’t eradicated infection diseases from our lives entirely, we’ve at least come a long way in our understanding of what causes illness in the first place.

In ancient times, people believed gods and spirits caused diseases and widespread destruction. But by the 19th century, a scientist named Louis Pasteur (based on findings by Robert Koch) discovered germ theory—the idea that small organisms caused disease.

What will we discover next, and how will it impact our response to disease in the future?

»Like this? Check out our full-length article The History of Pandemics

Where does this data come from?

Source:CDC, WHO, Johns Hopkins University, Encyclopedia Britannica, Historical Records
Notes: Many of the death toll numbers are best estimates based on available research. Some, such as the Plague of Justinian, are subject to debate based on new evidence

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Datastream

Olympics 2021: Comparing Every Sports Ball

Here are the different sizes and weights of each Olympic sports ball used in the Tokyo Olympics.

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Olympics 2021 Comparing Every Sports Ball Preview

The Briefing

  • Table tennis has the smallest sports ball used in the Tokyo Olympics at just 4cm in diameter and 2.7g in weight.
  • The biggest by size is the basketball at 24.35cm in diameter, but the shot is more than 10 times heavier at 7.26kg.

Olympics 2021: Comparing Every Sports Ball

It might be strange having the Olympics in 2021 (an odd year), but 2020 was anything but normal.

After facing a 12-month delay due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo are set to kick off from July 23 to August 8.

In addition to hosting traditional sports like running and aquatics, some sports are being introduced for the first time (karate, skateboarding) or returning after an absence (baseball).

One thing that many Olympic sports share in common? There are 17 different sports that use balls or spheres of some sort, ranging in size and weight. Here are the different balls used in the Tokyo Olympics.

Olympic Sports Balls by Size and Weight

The 2021 Olympics, which are still officially called the 2020 Olympics to keep the four-year cycle and branding consistent, are hosting 339 events across 33 different sports.

17 of those sports use balls or spheres. The official sizes and weights vary from a small diameter of 4cm for table tennis to the largest ball, a basketball with a diameter of 24.35cm.

SportDiameterWeight
Table Tennis4.00cm2.7g
Golf4.27cm45.93g
Tennis6.70cm57.7g
Field Hockey7.48cm163g
Baseball7.50cm149g
Softball9.55cm177g
Shot Put12.00cm7,260g
Handball (Women’s)17.51cm350g
Handball (Men’s)18.78cm450g
Rhythmic Gymnastics19.00cm400g
Volleyball21.01cm270g
Water Polo (Women’s)21.01cm425g
Beach Volleyball21.33cm270g
Soccer21.96cm432.5g
Water Polo (Men’s)22.28cm425g
Basketball (Women’s)23.24cm538g
Basketball (Men’s)24.35cm608g

Even within the same categories of sports, balls have different size and weight rules based on event or gender. Water polo, handball, and basketball all have slight variations of a few centimeters in diameter and up to 100g in weight for different gender events.

But sorting the balls by weight shows that the shot is far and away the heaviest. At 7.26kg, the shot is more than 10 times heavier than a basketball. That’s because while most sporting balls are made of light material filled with air, shots are typically constructed entirely of metal.

Where does this data come from?

Source: Wired, Official Sport Rulebooks.

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Datastream

Top 50 Companies Proportion of World GDP

The world’s top 50 companies are becoming more valuable, especially compared to global GDP.

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The Briefing

  • The combined market cap of the world’s top 50 companies was proportional to 27.6% of global GDP in 2020, up from just 4.7% of global GDP in 1990
  • Tech’s role continues to grow, now accounting for 21 of the top 50 companies

Top 50 Companies Proportion of World GDP

The world’s top 50 companies have become increasingly more valuable, and more powerful, over time.

As global GDP has grown over the last four decades, from $23.6 trillion in 1990 to $84.5 trillion in 2020, the proportional share of the world’s top companies by market capitalization has grown over five-fold.

YearGlobal GDPTop 50 Companies Market Cap as a % of GDP
1990$23.6T4.7%
2000$34.0T22.1%
2010$66.2T12.7%
2020$84.5T27.6%

Though the world’s top 50 companies change year-to-year, there’s also a lot of overlap.

Which Companies Dominated Each Decade?

2020’s largest company by market cap, Apple at $2.26 trillion, was the third largest company in 2010. Likewise, 2010’s largest company was Exxon Mobil, which was the second largest company in both 1990 and 2000 (but has since fallen off).

The top 50 companies in the world also highlight the increasing role of tech in the modern market. 1990’s largest company IBM was just one of three tech companies that made the ranking that year. Even in 2000, when the world’s largest company was GE, tech companies like Cisco and Microsoft only made up three of the top 10 companies by market cap.

Fast forward to 2020, and tech accounted for 42% of the top 50 companies in the world. It also plays a more prominent role on the high end of the spectrum, as six of 2020’s seven largest companies were tech-based, with only oil giant Saudi Aramco the odd one out.

Though digitization is a primary driver of current economic growth, will these trends remain steady in 10 or more years from now? Or will companies from other booming industries such as green energy take over the leaderboard?

>>Like this? You might find this article interesting, 23 Years of Shifting Tech Market Caps

Where does this data come from?

Source: Bloomberg, IMF.

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