Imagine the reaction of the public to a new virus outbreak that targeted children, sending 10 times as many to hospitals, and killing 13 times as many as COVID-19.
Would you call the government’s handling of this pandemic a success?
That is what happened in 2009 when the H1N1 – aka, the swine flu – pandemic swept across the land. While the total number of deaths from the swine flu was much lower than COVID-19, its impact on children and younger adults was far more severe.
Consider these numbers:
According to the Centers for Disease Control’s latest numbers, out of the more than 200,000 people who died with COVID-19, only 92 were under age 18.
But 1,282 children died from the H1N1 pandemic of 2009-2010, when Barack Obama was in the White House and Joe Biden was vice president.
The number of children hospitalized from COVID has been around 8,000. The number hospitalized because of H1N1 – 86,813.
The swine flu was particularly worrisome because, unlike COVID and the seasonal flu – this one targeted the young more than the elderly.
In fact, fully 10% of the deaths from H1N1 were age 17 or younger, while just 13% were over age 65.
With COVID, almost 80% of the deaths have been among those over 65 – with those over 85 accounting for 32% of deaths.
Those under 18 account for a mere 0.06% of COVID deaths.
The fact that the swine flu was unusual in this way didn’t escape experts at the time.
“This is really, really different from what we see with seasonal influenza,” said Dr. Anne Schuchat, director of the CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases in the fall of 2009. “With seasonal flu, about 60% of hospital cases occur in people 65 and over, and here we’re only seeing about 7% of hospitalizations in that age group, illustrating that this virus is disproportionately affecting the young.”
Despite these scary statistics, the message back in 2009 was “be calm.” Even as the virus spread like wildfire in the fall of 2009 and vaccine development hit various snags, schools remained open. The press was busy explaining why the incidents of swine flu were likely exaggerated.
In fact, when Biden suggested in April 2009 that people not fly because of swine flu, he was mercilessly bashed by the press for inducing panic, and the White House quickly issued a “clarification.” Biden dutifully complied with the official Obama administration messaging after that.
COVID has also proved deadly to the youth, not because of the disease, but because of the draconian lockdowns and school closings that Biden and his fellow Democrats urged, and want to extend.
“There has been another cost that we’ve seen, particularly in high schools,” CDC Director Robert Redfield said. “We’re seeing, sadly, far greater suicides now than we are deaths from COVID.”
There are other reasons not to praise the Obama-Biden handling of H1N1 – which Biden himself has provided.
The former vice president, for example, recently declared it an abomination that “The United States just passed 5 million reported infections of COVID-19. It’s a number that boggles the mind and breaks the heart. … It shouldn’t have gotten this bad.” (The current case number is more than 7 million.)
But according to the CDC, more than 60 million people contracted H1N1.
Ron Klain, who was Biden’s chief of staff during that outbreak, told Politico that “It is purely a fortuity that (H1N1) isn’t one of the great mass casualty events in American history. It had nothing to do with us doing anything right. It just had to do with luck.”
Klain went on to say that “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.”
Let’s do the math. If H1N1 had a similar case fatality rate as COVID-19, the death toll would have been 1.8 million. The fact that only 12,000 died had nothing to do with Biden’s or Obama’s efforts, but the fact that, as Klain says, we got lucky.
Likewise, the fact that 200,000 have died with COVID isn’t because the Trump administration fell down on the job, it’s because the disease is so harmful to the elderly and health compromised.
Biden won’t tell you that. His handmaidens in the press won’t tell you that. Which is why it’s been up to “alternative” news outlets to get the facts out.
— Written by the I&I Editorial Board