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Tags: Coronavirus | Joe Biden | H1N1 | swine flu

Biden Struggled to Combat Swine Flu

former vice president joe biden gestures with his right hand as he makes a point while speaking
(AP)

By    |   Monday, 04 May 2020 12:03 PM

Vice President Joe Biden’s efforts to contain the swine flu were filled with challenges similar to issues President Donald Trump is facing over combating the coronavirus, Politico reports.

The Obama administration’s response to the H1N1 virus was bungled with contradictory messages, a shortage of vaccines and fights over funding, according to Politico.

“It is purely a fortuity that this isn’t one of the great mass casualty events in American history,” Ron Klain, who was Biden’s chief of staff at the time, said of H1N1 in 2019 at a biosecurity summit. “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.”

Klain told Politico his comments made at the summit referred only to the Obama administration’s challenges in providing enough H1N1 vaccines. 

Over the course of a year, the H1N1 flu infected 60 million Americans, but there were only 12,469 deaths, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

He defended the Obama team and Biden saying they made choices different from the decisions Trump is making now, such as quickly distributing emergency equipment from the federal stockpile and letting public health experts address the strategies to fight the disease.

But that wasn’t the case early on. The administration sent out mixed messages on how to handle the outbreak. 

As the administration was made aware of the swine flu, Biden publicly said he wouldn’t advise his family to fly on an airplane or ride the subway.

He was accused of fearmongering and sending a different message from President Barack Obama who made assurances there was no need to panic even after he declared a national health emergency. 

In a matter of hours from when the interview aired on NBC’s “Today,” Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and Deputy Secretary of State Jack Lew were called to the White House and told to clean up Biden’s mess.

LaHood told Politico they were told to,“Nip it in the bud.” 

Undeterred, Biden remained involved and worked behind the scenes. He served as an ambassador to political leaders across the country for the president and talked to governors who were concerned about H1N1.

He was tasked by Obama to meet with congressional leaders to lobby for nearly $9 billion.

As money flowed in to help develop a vaccine, it wasn’t created fast enough. A promise to deliver over 100 million vaccines wasn’t fulfilled.

But it is Biden’s successes that Democrats are highlighting in saying he is the leader needed during a crisis. Biden, too, cites his experience handling the swine flu and Ebola. 

In his endorsement of Biden, Obama said, “Joe helped me manage H1N1 and prevent the Ebola epidemic from becoming the type of pandemic we're seeing now.”

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Politics
Vice President Joe Biden’s efforts to contain the swine flu were filled with challenges similar to issues President Donald Trump is facing over combating the coronavirus, Politico reports.
H1N1, swine flu
497
2020-03-04
Monday, 04 May 2020 12:03 PM
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