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President Trump appeared on Tuesday to suggest that the coronavirus pandemic is worse than the Spanish flu pandemic at the end of the First World War, which killed at least 50 million people, including approximately 675,000 in the United States.
Speaking at the end of an event touting the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), Trump first remarked that the Spanish flu was “the worst of all time”, before suggesting that the pandemic “was not not quite what we are going through right now. “
“We are going through a period of time like we have never seen before in this country,” said Trump from the East Room of the White House. “Certainly, even if you go back to 1917, it was the worst of all time, but it was not as bad. “
He added, “It was a bad one, but it was not quite what we are going through right now. “
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Since he started his almost daily press briefings on the COVID-19 public health crisis, the president has repeatedly made reference to the year 1917. While some researchers have speculated that the first appearance of the Spanish flu, or H1N1, came from Chinese workers mobilized on the Western Front, the pandemic occurred between the spring of 1918 and the spring of 1919, some historians tracing its origins in 1918 in the county of Haskell, in Kan ., before spreading to military cantonments ready to go to Europe.
The Spanish flu pandemic, so called because Spain was a neutral nation during the First World War and the country’s uncensored press was allowed to report freely on the contagion, is said to have appeared for the first time in the world in January 1918 with a second, much more deadly strain of the virus. striking in the fall of this year.
The 1918 pandemic is said to have infected 500 million people, about a third of the planet’s total population at the time, and killed 50 million.
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Since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic in the United States, Trump has repeatedly compared it to the Spanish flu – either saying that the 1918 epidemic was much worse than COVID-19, or that the current situation is more dramatic.
At a virtual town hall with Fox News last month, Trump exaggerated the number of deaths and the death rate from the Spanish flu, saying that “almost 100 million people died” and that “if you have it , you have a 50/50 chance, or very close, of dying. “
While estimates of the death rate for the 1918 flu pandemic vary widely given incomplete records for the period, a 2006 study published in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) journal Emerging Infectious Diseases placed the Spanish flu death rate between 10 and 20 percent. A 2002 report published in the Bulletin of the History of Medicine, however, estimated that the number of people who died from the Spanish flu was between 50 and 100 million.