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FLASHBACK: Obama administration shut down H1N1 testing, undercutting Biden's COVID-19 attacks on Trump
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FLASHBACK: Obama administration shut down H1N1 testing, undercutting Biden's COVID-19 attacks on Trump

During the 2009 swine flu pandemic, the CDC stopped counting H1N1 cases and abruptly advised states to stop testing.

Joe Biden continues to attack President Donald Trump over his response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

"Donald Trump forgot about COVID-19, but COVID-19 didn't forget about us," Biden tweeted in June. "The President couldn't wish away the virus in April, he couldn't tweet it away in May, and he can't ignore it away in June."

"Remember back in March ... we talked about the need to act like we were at war with the virus," Biden said of Trump in late June. "He called himself a wartime president ... What happened? Now, it's almost July, and it seems like our wartime president has surrendered, waved ... the white flag and left the battlefield."

A few weeks ago, Biden told Trump to "speed up the testing."

"The crisis in Arizona is the direct result of Donald Trump's failure to lead and his desire to 'slow the testing down,' and Americans are suffering the consequences," Biden said on Wednesday.

However, back in 2009 during the swine flu pandemic, the Obama administration instructed states to shut down testing for H1N1 and stop counting cases of the deadly respiratory disease.

In October 2009, CBS News released the findings from a three-month-long investigation into how the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention were reporting H1N1 cases during the swine flu pandemic.

"In late July, the CDC abruptly advised states to stop testing for H1N1 flu, and stopped counting individual cases," CBS News reporter Sharyl Attkisson wrote. "The rationale given for the CDC guidance to forego testing and tracking individual cases was: why waste resources testing for H1N1 flu when the government has already confirmed there's an epidemic?"

"Some public health officials privately disagreed with the decision to stop testing and counting, telling CBS News that continued tracking of this new and possibly changing virus was important because H1N1 has a different epidemiology, affects younger people more than seasonal flu and has been shown to have a higher case fatality rate than other flu virus strains," the report said.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website confirms the CBS News report.

"Individual case counts were kept early during the 2009 H1N1 outbreak when the 2009 H1N1 virus first emerged," the CDC website reads. "As the outbreak expanded and became more widespread, individual case counts become increasingly impractical and not representative of the true extent of the outbreak."

"This is because only a small proportion of persons with respiratory illness are actually tested and confirmed for influenza (including 2009 H1N1) so the true benefit of keeping track of these numbers is questionable," the CDC stated. "In addition, the extensive spread of 2009 H1N1 flu within the United States made it extremely resource-intensive for states to count individual cases. On July 24, 2009, CDC discontinued reporting of individual cases of 2009 H1N1, but continued to track hospitalizations and deaths."

"As 2009 H1N1 cases continued to occur through the spring and summer, the task of counting cases became increasingly difficult," according to the CDC. "On May 12, 2009, CDC transitioned from reporting individual confirmed and probable cases of 2009 H1N1 influenza to reporting aggregate counts of 2009 H1N1 lab confirmed and probable cases, hospitalizations and deaths with the launch of an aggregate reporting web site. Once the numbers of cases increased beyond the point where counting of individual cases was practical, on July 23, 2009, CDC reported the number of 2009 cases for the last time."

The directive to stop testing and counting H1N1 cases was issued three months after then-President Barack Obama officially declared the H1N1 influenza virus a public health emergency and three months before the administration declared it a national emergency on Oct. 24, 2009. H1N1 was declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization on June 11, 2009.

Attkisson filed a formal Freedom of Information and requested to know why the CDC ordered states to stop testing for H1N1. Two months later, she received a letter from the CDC Freedom of Information office.

"The letter is to inform me that my request for 'expedited' treatment of my FOI request has been denied because CDC has determined the request is 'not a matter of widespread and exceptional media and public interest,'" Attkisson wrote.

"First, it seems ill advised to allow the responding agency (which often doesn't want the info released) to determine whether an issue is of media and public interest and, therefore, subject to expedited treatment," she continued. "Further, the CDC may be the only agency on the planet to argue that testing and counting of swine flu cases is "not of widespread and exceptional media and public interest."

Ron Klain, who served as Biden's chief of staff in 2009 and Obama's Ebola czar in 2014, seemingly pointed out how the country dodged a bullet during the swine flu outbreak because of luck.

"It is purely a fortuity that this isn't one of the great mass casualty events in American history. It had nothing to do with us doing anything right. It just had to do with luck," Klain said last year at a biosecurity summit. "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, who is currently an advisor to the Biden campaign, has since backtracked on his comments, specifying that he was only talking about the challenges in producing enough H1N1 vaccine for the public demand.

In late July 2009, the Obama administration promised there would be enough H1N1 vaccine to immunize 160 million Americans at the beginning of the flu season, but ended up with just 28 million.

The CDC estimates that in the U.S., there were nearly 61 million cases of swine flu, 274,304 hospitalizations, and 12,469 deaths between April 12, 2009, and April 10, 2010. H1N1 has a mortality rate of .02%, which is far less deadly than coronavirus.

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