EPIBEL: EPidemics and Inequalities in BELgium from the Plague to COVID-19: what can we learn from societal resilience

15 December 2020 → 15 March 2025
Federal funding: various
Research disciplines
  • Humanities
    • Socio-economic history
inequality mortality epidemics
Project description

IThe overarching goal of EPIBEL is to map and explain inequalities in the impact of epidemic outbreaks.  COVID-19 demonstrated that some people are more likely to suffer in their health and their material wellbeing than others. However, as the pandemic is still unfolding, our understanding of these inequalities is still limited. What is more, we ignore how this social bias in impact will eventually affect societal resilience – the way societies are able to absorb the shock and adapt to prevent similar shocks in the future. However,  COVID-19 is not the first epidemic outbreak which hit the world. Hence, EPIBEL systematically compares COVID-19 with five previous epidemic outbreaks: the 1918/19 ‘Spanish’ Flu, the 1866 cholera epidemic, dysentery in 1692/93 and plague in 1438/39 and 1556/59. All of these were perceived by contemporaries as major outbreaks. As a result they are well documented and resulted in the formulation of epidemic policies with lasting impact.