WATCH: Trump Misstates Dates Of Start Of World War II & Spanish Flu Pandemic
During a White House press briefing on Monday, President Donald Trump incorrectly suggested that the “1917” Spanish Flu pandemic “probably ended the Second World War,” which started in 1939 – transposing two significant historical events and their timelines.
During the news conference, a reporter had questioned Trump about the COVID-19 U.S. death toll, asking, “If 160,000 people had died on President Obama’s watch, do you think you would have called for his resignation?”
Trump continued, “Nobody’s ever seen anything like this … The closest thing is, in 1917, they say, right? The great pandemic certainly was a terrible thing where they lost anywhere from 50 to 100 million people. Probably ended the Second World War, all the soldiers were sick.”
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The president had apparently been alluding to the Spanish Flu, which broke out in 1918.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Spanish Flu pandemic remains responsible for tens of millions of deaths globally during 1918 and 1919, but not during 1917, as Trump erroneously indicated Monday night.
Most sources say that the pandemic’s first infections were discovered in March 1918 and endured until 1920 – not beginning in “1917,” as Trump stated Monday.
However, according to a CNN Fact Check, “there has been some research suggesting [that] this Flu was circulating in 1917.”
Fact check: Did the Spanish flu end WWII like President Trump claimed?
The 1917 flu pandemic obviously did not end the “Second World War,” which occurred from 1939 to 1945; it did sicken soldiers during the final year of World War I. https://t.co/rUdYcEn1rm
— CNN Politics (@CNNPolitics) August 11, 2020
Trump’s Monday night remark that the “1917” Spanish Flu “probably ended the Second World War” because “all the soldiers were sick” was a worse blunder.
The Spanish Flu, which began around 1918 and stopped around 1920, could not have ended WWII, which started in 1939 and ended in 1945.
A White House Official defended Trump and told USA Today that Trump had been referring to World War I.
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