Speed Reads

Mistakes Were Made

Trump says the 1918 flu pandemic began in 1917, 'probably ended the Second World War'

President Trump oddly but consistently says the 1918-19 flu pandemic began in 1917, but the White House clarified Monday night that Trump just misspoke when he claimed the Spanish Flu pandemic probably ended World War II, which started in 1939 and ended in 1945.

"The closest thing is in 1917, they say, the great pandemic," Trump told reporters Monday evening, talking about the COVID-19 pandemic. "It certainly was a terrible thing where they lost anywhere from 50 to 100 million people, probably ended the Second World War. All the soldiers were sick. That was a terrible situation."

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says the deployment of U.S. forces to Europe's battlefields in World War I helped spread the Spanish Flu, but Germany's surrender in 1918 followed years of heavy battlefield losses on all sides.

Trump's erroneous comments about world wars and the Spanish Flu's start date came in response to a question about whether he would have called for his predecessor's resignation if more than 160,000 Americans had died of a communicable disease on his watch. Trump, who did call for President Barack Obama to resign after one American doctor was allowed to return to the U.S. after contracting Ebola, said no.