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Trust Index: Fact-checking claims during Pence-Harris debate about swine flu

FILE - In this Nov. 9, 2009, file photo, a package of the H1N1 swine flu vaccine is shown at a pharmacy in Seattle. Last fall, as swine flu cases mounted and parents desperately sought to protect their kids, the hard-to-get vaccine was handed out in some surprising places: the Royal Caribbean cruise line, the headquarters of drug giant Merck, the Johnson Space Center, and a Department of Energy office in Idaho. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren, file)
FILE - In this Nov. 9, 2009, file photo, a package of the H1N1 swine flu vaccine is shown at a pharmacy in Seattle. Last fall, as swine flu cases mounted and parents desperately sought to protect their kids, the hard-to-get vaccine was handed out in some surprising places: the Royal Caribbean cruise line, the headquarters of drug giant Merck, the Johnson Space Center, and a Department of Energy office in Idaho. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren, file) (AP2009)

Vice President Mike Pence brought up the 2009 swine flu pandemic while he was talking about the coronavirus during the vice presidential debate Wednesday evening with Sen. Kamala Harris.

“It was 2009. The swine flu arrived in the United States. Thankfully, it was ended up not being as lethal as the coronavirus. But before the end of the year, when Joe Biden was vice president of the United States, not 7 ½ million people contracted the swine flu, 60 million Americans contracted the swine flu," Pence said.

First, the News4Jax Trust Index team looked at swine flu numbers.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, from April 12, 2009, to April 10, 2010, the CDC estimated there were about 60.8 million cases and 12,469 deaths in the United States due to the H1N1 virus.

While the CDC estimated there were about 60.8 million cases in the U.S., that was between April 2009 and April 2010, so the timeframe passes the end of 2009. That’s why the News4Jax Trust Index team is rating this as “Be Careful."

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Pence then went on to say: "If the swine flu had been as lethal as the coronavirus in 2009, when Joe Biden was vice president, we would have lost 2 million American lives.”

Let’s start with coronavirus numbers. As of Wednesday afternoon, according to the CDC, there had been nearly 7.5 million COVID-19 cases and 210,232 deaths since January 21, 2020. So while there have been more coronavirus-related deaths than there were deaths due to the H1N1 virus, it’s unclear how Pence arrived at the “2 million” number.

Due to the lack of data surrounding this claim, the Trust Index team is rating this as “Be Careful.”

Be Careful

After reviewing this topic, we've found some issues - Be Careful.

What is the Trust Index?

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