Trump said the 1918 Spanish flu 'probably ended' World War II, which did not begin until 21 years after that pandemic

President Donald TrumpREUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
  • During an eventful press briefing on Monday, President Donald Trump incorrectly claimed that in 1917 the Spanish flu "probably ended the Second World War."
  • World War II began more than two decades after the pandemic.
  • The president probably meant to refer to World War I, the final months of which overlapped with the deadly spread of the flu, which also began in the summer of 1918, not 1917.
  • The deployment of troops during World War I most likely contributed to the spread of the 1918 flu because of crowded conditions and intercontinental movement, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
  • Trump also said during the press conference that the Spanish flu, which he described as the "Great Pandemic," killed 50 million to 100 million people.
  • The 1918 pandemic, which was caused by an H1N1 virus, infected as many as 500 million people worldwide, and it killed at least 50 million people, according to the CDC.
  • Comparisons have been drawn between the deadly 1918 pandemic and COVID-19 pandemic because of new new virus' rapid and deadly spread.
  • The billionaire philanthropist Bill Gates has said there were lessons from the handling of the Spanish flu that could be applied to the national and global coronavirus response.
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