It really does amuse me when politicians try to make a point and end up making themselves look bad instead. Joe Biden seems to be a master at this. On Saturday evening, Biden tried to make a point about how bad the number of COVID-19 infections is, and, without realizing it, made himself look really awful.
“The United States just passed 5 million reported infections of COVID-19,” Biden tweeted on Saturday. “It’s a number that boggles the mind and breaks the heart. Each time the number goes up, it represents a life altered, a family stricken with anxiety, a community on edge. It shouldn’t have gotten this bad.”
Yes, 5 million is a large number. And if that’s the metric Biden wants to use, let’s talk about it. But something tells me that Biden really doesn’t want to. Why? Because he apparently forgot that this number of infections is actually less than 1/10th of the number of infections of H1N1 (swine flu) during the 2009 pandemic. Who was in charge then? Oh yeah, Barack Obama and Joe Biden.
According to the CDC’s final estimates, from April 12, 2009, to April 10, 2010, there were approximately 60.8 million cases of H1N1.
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Axios similarly forgot this fact last month when it claimed we were losing the war against the coronavirus by noting that “if all COVID-19 patients lived in one city” it would be the third-largest in the United States.
If 3.1 million cases at the time involved “losing the war” against the coronavirus, then we lost the war against H1N1 far worse. In fact, if H1N1 patients represented a city, it would be the biggest city in the world, more than twice as big as Shanghai.
Ron Klain, who was Biden’s chief of staff at the time of the H1N1 pandemic and is currently advising his campaign, says it was mere luck that H1N1 wasn’t more deadly. “It is purely a fortuity that this isn’t one of the great mass casualty events in American history,” Klain said of H1N1 in 2019. “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.”
According to the CDC, the coronavirus has an overall mortality rate of 0.4 percent for symptomatic cases (or 0.26 percent if you include asymptomatic cases) meaning that the coronavirus is 13-20 times more deadly than H1N1, which had a mortality rate of 0.02 percent.
The coronavirus is not only magnitudes more deadly than H1N1, but also more infectious. According to a study from Emerging Infectious Diseases, COVID-19 has a median R0 value (a mathematical term for how contagious a disease is) of 5.7, while H1N1 had an R0 value between 1.4 and 1.6. So, COVID-19 is nearly 4 times more infectious and 13-20 times more deadly than H1N1.
Not only were Obama and Biden lucky that H1N1 wasn’t more infectious or deadly, but based on these numbers, COVID-19 has been contained much better than H1N1.
Cuz, really, Joe… 61 million cases is what actually boggles the mind. It shouldn’t have gotten that bad.
Matt Margolis is the author of the new book Airborne: How The Liberal Media Weaponized The Coronavirus Against Donald Trump, and the bestselling book The Worst President in History: The Legacy of Barack Obama. You can follow Matt on Twitter @MattMargolis