How many Americans died from swine flu? Donald Trump lashes out at Joe Biden over his handling of 2009 pandemic

The swine flu pandemic broke out in the early months of Barack Obama's first term as President and Biden was seen taking the situation seriously


                            How many Americans died from swine flu? Donald Trump lashes out at Joe Biden over his handling of 2009 pandemic
Donald Trump and Joe Biden (Getty Images)

As the new, more contagious strain of Covid-19 was detected for the first time in a Colorado man in his 20s, President Donald Trump, who is set to leave the office in January 2021, took to social media to tweet his handling of the Covid-19 pandemic. Trump also called out President-elect Joe Biden over his handling of the 2009 swine flu pandemic.

The swine flu pandemic lasted from January to August 2009 and broke out in the early months of Barack Obama's first term as President, with Joe Biden as his Vice-President.

Trump tweeted on Tuesday, December 29, "It is up to the States to distribute the vaccines once brought to the designated areas by the Federal Government. We have not only developed the vaccines, including putting up money to move the process along quickly, but gotten [sic] them to the states. Biden failed with Swine Flu!"



 

The Swine Flu pandemic was caused by the H1N1 virus — the second of two pandemics caused by the virus, the first being the 1918-1920 Spanish flu pandemic — with the first cases in the United States being detected in California in April 2009.

According to the Centre for Diseases Control and Prevention (CDC), from April 12, 2009 to April 10, 2010, there were 60.8 million cases (range: 43.3 — 89.3 million), 274,304 hospitalizations (range: 195,086 — 402,719), and 12,469 deaths (range: 8868 — 18,306) in the United States due to the virus. 

How did the Obama-Biden administration handle the swine flu pandemic?

According to a report by Politico, Obama and Biden were warned by Homeland Security Adviser John Brennan in April 2009 that the H1N1 virus was showing signs of rapid spread in Mexico as cases were detected in California and Texas. Biden reportedly told Brennan that the administration needed to act "aggressively" on the virus spread. 

Biden then said in an NBC interview that he would not advise his family to fly on airplanes, saying, "I wouldn’t go anywhere in confined places right now. It’s not that it’s going to Mexico, it’s that you are in a confined aircraft. When one person sneezes, it goes everywhere through the aircraft.”

However, Biden's words angered the airline industry who accused him of fearmongering. Within hours, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and Deputy Secretary of State Jack Lew hosted a news conference to handle the situation and back away from Biden's statements.

Politico noted that Biden's chief of staff at the time, Ron Klain, claimed in 2019 that it was a matter of luck that the pandemic did not result in mass casualty. He said, "It had nothing to do with us doing anything right. It just had to do with luck. If anyone thinks that this can’t happen again, they don’t have to go back to 1918, they just have to go back to 2009, 2010 and imagine a virus with a different lethality, and you can just do the math on that."

However, Klain later said his comments referred to the administration's difficulties in producing enough of the H1N1 vaccine to meet the public demand. Klain said that the Obama administration quickly adapted to the situation and made decisions that were very different from the decisions that the Trump administration has been taking during the COVID-19 pandemic, such as the distribution of emergency equipment from the federal stockpile, and deferring to public health experts' opinions.

Natasha Korecki wrote for Politico, "After an initial run of problems — including an inability to contain the virus and slower-than-expected development of a vaccine — they say they learned quickly and generated a better response both in the later stages of H1N1 and then, five years later, in confronting the much more lethal Ebola virus."

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