President Donald Trump on Monday offered up a strange comparison between the current novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and the Spanish flu crisis of 1918, stating that the latter “probably ended” World War II, which both started and ended decades later.
“In 1917 … the great pandemic certainly was a terrible thing where they lost anywhere from 50 to 100 million people,” Trump said. “Probably ended the Second World War, all the soldiers were sick. That was a terrible situation.”
As any student of history knows, World War II ended in 1945. In a statement, White House officials clarified that the Trump likely misspoke and was referring to to World War I.
The WWI comparison isn't totally off: as Military Times notes, frontline conditions during the “war to end all wars” certainly helped hasten the global spread of the virus, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“In the United States, (the flu) was first identified in military personnel in spring 1918,” according to the CDC. “It is estimated that about 500 million people or one-third of the world’s population became infected with this virus. The number of deaths was estimated to be at least 50 million worldwide with about 675,000 occurring in the United States.”
Oops, I guess? Watch the video below:
Strange times for historians pic.twitter.com/eA1uOlpMW3
— Observation Post (@MilitaryTimesOP) August 11, 2020