@popogeejo: But we have suffered pandemic before. We've suffered pandemic after pandemic after pandemic, all in a time when we believed the plague was a punishment from a creator being, and not with the knowledge that it's microscopic bacteria, and no ideas of how to combat it besides blame the Jews and maybe pray some more. We're all still here, thankfully.
The difficulty you're going to see in a modern virus or bacteria doing anything close to even those is to have a virus that is a) completely unknown, b) resistant to basic treatments, c) extremely contagious, d) extremely slow presenting and e) extremely lethal. Doubtful. While I have no doubts that losing 50% of the population would greatly affect our economic and productive capability, developed societies will not regress. America is not aching for warm bodies to perform basic tasks and fulfill production, it actively attempts to keep people out.
You know what I think might actually break down society? A nation of idiots raised on the belief that as soon as the dead are shuffling around, ERTS EVERY MERN FER HERMSELF and driving axes into their neighbors heads whereas before they would have worked together in a reciprocal fashion to achieve their common interest (survival) and been able to increase their production exponentially.
The problem with a modern virus is that people don't live in isolated population pockets that can simply die off and stop the spread of disease. People are too mobile and the world is too interconnected. If you have a deadly infection that can easily be transmitted and is slow to be present symptoms then we will have a huge problem.
What if you don't develop zombie/rage like symptoms until after a few weeks? You could have millions of potential zombies in a matter of days. A single person can infect an entire city and then the city infects the entire continent.
Consider SARS, a disease that we labelled a pandemic, were uniquely aware of, is noted for communicability and almost synonymous with Hong Kong airports. What did this barbarian of a virus do, how badly did it impact the global population? Well, it killed about 800 people over the span of less than a year. The business guy for Penny Arcade caught it. And it managed to kill .... 0.0000001% of the world's population? What about H1N1, which was much more effective at about 18,000.... which remains 0.003% of the world's population? 18,000 is almost as many people who live in my city district.
Epidemiologists. They work, bitches.