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FACT CHECK: Trump’s faulty claims on flu and coronavirus

Calvin Woodward
Associated Press

Washington – President Donald Trump is back to making false comparisons between COVID-19 and the flu, contradicting science and even himself.

President Donald Trump speaks about coronavirus testing strategy, in the Rose Garden of the White House, Monday, Sept. 28, 2020, in Washington.

TRUMP: “Flu season is coming up! Many people every year, sometimes over 100,000, and despite the Vaccine, die from the Flu. Are we going to close down our Country? No, we have learned to live with it, just like we are learning to live with Covid, in most populations far less lethal!!!” – tweet Tuesday.

THE FACTS: First, he’s overstating the U.S. death toll from the seasonal flu. The flu has killed 12,000 to 61,000 Americans annually since 2010, not 100,000, a benchmark rarely reached in U.S. history.

Second, health officials widely agree that the coronavirus seems to be at least several times more lethal than seasonal flu. At one point, Dr. Anthony Fauci of the National Institutes of Health told Congress it could be as much as 10 times more lethal.

Trump’s tweet, which he sent even while grappling with his own COVID-19 infection, also flies in the face of what he told author Bob Woodward in February in an interview for the recent book “Rage.”

He told Woodward on Feb. 7 that the virus was even more deadly than “your strenuous flus,” even while suggesting publicly that the pandemic was akin to the flu season. “This is deadly stuff,” he told the author.

For weeks after, though, the public heard soothing words from the president that he knew were not true. “This is a flu,” he told a briefing Feb. 26. “This is like a flu.”

As the death toll grew beyond anything seen most flu seasons, Trump pulled back on the increasingly untenable comparison. Now, tens of thousands of deaths later, it has returned.