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Was the swine flu response in 2009 a 'disaster' as President Trump said?

Jayne O'Donnell, USA TODAY
·1 min read
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President Trump blamed the Obama Administration Friday for completely botching its response to the 2009 outbreak of H1N1, known as swine flu.

"For decades the @CDCgov looked at, and studied, its testing system, but did nothing about it," the president tweeted. "It would always be inadequate and slow for a large scale pandemic, but a pandemic would never happen, they hoped. President Obama made changes that only complicated things further."

He added that the previous administration's response to H1N1 swine flu "was a full scale disaster, with thousands dying, and nothing meaningful done to fix the testing problem, until now."

But those remarks, made as the president declared coronavirus a national emergency, seem to go against what the record shows.

According to a 2012 report by the Department of Health and Human Services, there were successes in the Obama administration's response - albeit with room for improvement. And, a late 2009 CNN poll showed 57% of respondents approved of how the former president handled the government response to the H1N1 flu despite vaccine shortages at the time.

President Donald Trump arrives with Vice President Mike Pence for a news conference about the coronavirus in the Rose Garden at the White House, Friday, March 13, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon) ORG XMIT: DCAB311
President Donald Trump arrives with Vice President Mike Pence for a news conference about the coronavirus in the Rose Garden at the White House, Friday, March 13, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon) ORG XMIT: DCAB311

Here's what the HHS report showed the Obama Administration did right:

• Communication about where the virus was found.

• Identification of the people at highest risk for "severe disease."

• Fast regulatory authorization of diagnostic tests.

But there were problems:

• National surveillance data wasn't specific enough to detect rapid changes.

• It took too much time to "collect, validate, summarize, and disseminate surveillance data."

• Roles of federal agencies needed to be better defined and communication with military and homeland security officials needed clarification.

• More timely, clinical guidance was needed on the best treatment for seriously ill, hospitalized patients.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Trump said Obama team botched H1N1 swine flu response, but is it true?