Two territories, two wildly different outcomes as a pandemic terrorized the world.

Get our weekly newsletter

American Samoa Dodged a Pandemic in 1918. Here’s What We Learned

Producer: Matthew Spolar
Sr. Producer: Erik German

When a deadly pandemic spread across the globe in 1918, American Samoa, a small constellation of islands colonized by the United States at the turn of the 20th century, recorded no infections, practically an epidemiological miracle. A few dozen miles away, Samoan islands occupied by New Zealand were wracked by influenza on a terrifying scale. Today, just over a century later, the territories’ divergent fates hang ominously over a new health crisis.