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Difference Between Endemic and Pandemic

What is Endemic and Pandemic?

Endemic is the spread of a disease or an infectious agent within a geographic area that is existing perpetually while pandemic is an advanced form of epidemic and it involves the spread of infection or disease at a global level. Pandemic outbreak affects most of the world.

However, there are some major differences between the two that have been discussed below.


A disease that exists permanently in a particular region or population e.g. cholera, malaria. Endemic infections, involve bacterial infections, viruses, and other infection causing pathogens that exist within a geographic location.

Endemic term is most commonly used to describe an infectious disease or agent that has spread or is spreading in a restricted territory. For e.g. malaria is an infectious disease and is said to be endemic to tropical territories. An endemic disease can simply be referred to as an endemic.


It is an outbreak of disease in the form of epidemic that spreads at a global level throughout the world and remains there for sometimes a year or even more wiping out millions of people e.g. Covid-19 and Ebola virus.

World Health Organization officially declared the coronavirus or COVID-19 outbreak as a pandemic because of the world wide spread of the virus and the severity of the infection or disease.

Difference between Endemic and Pandemic



An endemic describes a regularly found disease among particular people or in a certain area at a particular time.  For example, chickenpox is considered endemic in the United Kingdom, but malaria is not.


A pandemic is the spread of an infectious and contagious disease that affects the whole world by spready form region to the whole country and then countries and then the entire globe.  It basically relates to the disease being widely spread geographically.

Greek definition


Endemic actually means “in the population”. An endemic is derived from Greek word (endemos), en meaning “in” and demos meaning “people” or “population”.


A pandemic is derived from Greek word (pan demos), pan meaning all and demos meaning people.



Chicken pox (highly contagious viral infection) that occurs at a predictable rate among young school children in the U.S and malaria (caused by a plasmodium parasite) in some areas of Africa.

Dengue fever outbreak in Hawaii is another example. It is endemic to certain regions of Africa, Central and South America, and the Caribbean. 


1910-1911 – Sixth Cholera Pandemic (1910-1911)

1956-1958 – The Asian Flue – China

1968 – The Hongkong Flu

2005-2012 – HIV/AIDS pandemic 

2019-20 COVID-19 (The Novel Coronavirus) in Wuhan China



Seasonal vaccines are available for treating the infectious disease like flu. For most people, only one dose of vaccine is needed. 


Vaccines are not available in the initial phases of a widespread pandemic. Two doses of pandemic vaccines are likely to be needed.



Antiviral drugs which are prescription medications are available throughout for treatment. 


For a global spread of infection at a global level resulting in a pandemic, medications may not be immediately available and the antiviral medications that are available to treat symptoms of the pandemic flu are effective only if the virus is susceptible to these drugs. Supply of flu antiviral drugs are usually not enough to meet the demand during a global pandemic.


The points of difference between Endemic and Pandemic have been summarized as below:

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References :

[0]Ali, M., Nelson, A. R., Lopez, A. L., & Sack, D. A. (2015). Updated global burden of cholera in endemic countries. PLoS neglected tropical diseases, 9(6), e0003832.

[1]Dinis-Oliveira, R. J. (2020). COVID-19 research: pandemic versus “paperdemic”, integrity, values and risks of the “speed science”. Forensic Sciences Research, 1-14.

[2]Madhav, N., Oppenheim, B., Gallivan, M., Mulembakani, P., Rubin, E., & Wolfe, N. (2017). Pandemics: risks, impacts, and mitigation.

[3]Pastor-Satorras, R., & Vespignani, A. (2001). Epidemic dynamics and endemic states in complex networks. Physical Review E, 63(6), 066117.

[4]Image credit: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Coronavirus_pandemic.png


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