Obama & Biden “Promised A Vaccine; Underperformed,” Says Donald Trump’s Press Secretary
Kayleigh McEnany accused Joe Biden Tuesday of dangerously politicizing the COVID-19 vaccine that Donald Trump says could be ready by the end of the year. By comparison, she says, President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden promised a vaccine, but it underperformed. Though she quickly mentioned swine flu after this, it’s not the first time that the Trump Administration has immediately brought up the previous administration when confronted with the failures in coronavirus response.
Obama and Biden did not promise a vaccine for COVID-19 during their time in office. The virus was not known to exist until 2019 — hence the name. Obama left the White House in January of 2017. However, their administration did have to deal with Swine Flu, and the concerns about what kinds of death toll it might have.
Though McEnany’s comments initially seem to blame President Obama’s administration for failing to produce a vaccine for the current pandemic, she pivots, afterward, to mention Swine Flu. She quotes a Biden advisor saying that it’s a miracle the outbreak wasn’t a mass casualty event.
Donald Trump has previously brought up Obama when challenged on his pandemic response, complaining that the previous administration didn’t leave good tests for the virus, as reported by People in May.
However, even taking McEnany’s pivot into account, and presuming her comments to be about the Swine Flu outbreak during the Obama years, rather than an attempt to associate Trump’s predecessor with the current pandemic, one thing is key: whether or not it’s deemed a miracle, Swine Flu didn’t have a death toll to match COVID-19.
The New York Times reported on this in 2009, calling the outbreak a test of Obama’s competency, and describing his actions in the face of a vaccine shortage. These included a dedicated website, PSAs featuring Sesame Street muppets to teach kids how to cover a sneeze, regular reminders from the president to wash hands, and information for health care workers.
According to a Live Science comparison of the two viruses, Swine Flu killed about 12.5k Americans in its first year. The current U.S. death toll, by Worldometer‘s count, after less than a year, is over 193k. That’s more than 14 times the death toll, in less time.