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Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden gestures while speaking during the first presidential debate on Sept. 29, 2020, at Case Western University and Cleveland Clinic, in Cleveland, Ohio. (AP) Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden gestures while speaking during the first presidential debate on Sept. 29, 2020, at Case Western University and Cleveland Clinic, in Cleveland, Ohio. (AP)

Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden gestures while speaking during the first presidential debate on Sept. 29, 2020, at Case Western University and Cleveland Clinic, in Cleveland, Ohio. (AP)

Noah Y. Kim
By Noah Y. Kim October 7, 2020

No, H1N1 didn’t kill 574,000 Americans

If Your Time is short

• The post cites the number of H1N1 deaths worldwide. The context makes clear that Biden was citing the number of H1N1 deaths in the U.S. ​

 

 

During the 2020 presidential debate, Donald Trump attacked Joe Biden for the Obama administration’s handling of the 2009-10 H1N1 outbreak. "You didn’t do very well on swine flu," President Trump said. "You were a disaster."

"14,000 people died, not 200,000," the Democratic presidential nominee fired back.

The heated exchange drew the attention of social media users, one of whom posted what they described as a "fact check" of Biden. 

"Joe said 14,000 people died from H1N1. Fact checking it is 574,000," the post reads. 

This post, which has been shared over 3,500 times, misleadingly implies that Biden drastically understated the number of H1N1 deaths. It was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Facebook.)

Featured Fact-check

The H1N1 influenza virus was discovered in the U.S. in the spring of 2009, and eventually spread around the world. It was initially called "swine flu," because it carried genes similar to influenza viruses in North American pigs. 

The post cites an estimate from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention of how many people H1N1 killed worldwide. During the debate, Biden was clearly citing the number of people who died from H1N1 in the United States, comparing it with the number of Americans who have died from the coronavirus under Trump’s watch, which now stands at nearly 211,000, according to the Johns Hopkins University Coronavirus Resource Center.

What’s more, in his debate remarks Biden actually overstated the number of swine flu deaths in the U.S. while he was vice president. The CDC estimates that 12,500 Americans died from H1N1 between April 2009 and April 2010. 

Our ruling

A Facebook post reads, "Joe said 14,000 people died from H1N1. Fact checking it is 574,000."

The post cites the number of H1N1 deaths worldwide. The context makes clear that Biden was citing the number of H1N1 deaths in the U.S. 

We rate this Pants on Fire!

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No, H1N1 didn’t kill 574,000 Americans

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