Joe Biden’s former chief of staff during his vice presidency came clean last year about how the Obama administration botched its response to the H1N1 “swine flu,” admitting that it was “just luck” that the virus did not lead to “one of the great mass casualty events in American history.”
What are the details?
Ron Klain, who served as chief of staff to Biden before being appointed to serve as President Barack Obama’s “Ebola Czar,” said at the National Press Club in 2019:
I was in the White House in 2009 and 2010, and I was working for Vice President Biden. I wasn’t involved directly in the H1N1 response, but I lived through it as a White House staffer, and what I would say about it is: A bunch of really great, really talented people were working on it and we did every possible thing wrong.
Klain continued, “Sixty million Americans got H1N1 in that period of time, and it’s just purely a fortuity that this isn’t one of the great mass casualty events in American history.”
He added, “It had nothing to do with us doing anything right. It just had to do with luck.”
A video of Klain’s comments was shared online by Trump 2020 campaign rapid response director Andrew Clark on Thursday, and an excerpt of his remarks was published by Politico in May.
The Politico headline read: ‘Biden has fought a pandemic before. It did not go smoothly.” The outlet noted that Klain — currently an adviser to the Biden campaign — “now says his comments, which were made at biosecurity summit, referred solely to the administration’s difficulties in producing enough of an H1N1 vaccine to meet public demand.”
As TheBlaze pointed out last week, Biden has been highly critical of President Donald Trump’s handling of the coronavirus. But the Obama administration was exposed in 2009 by then-CBS News reporter Sharyl Attkisson for shutting down H1N1 testing.
“The rationale given for the CDC guidance to forego testing and tracking was,” Attkisson wrote, “why waste resources testing for H1N1 flue when the government has already confirmed there’s an epidemic?”
After the swine flu epidemic in 2009, a safety-equipment industry association and a federally sponsored task force both recommended that depleted supplies of N95 respirator masks, which filter out airborne particles, be replenished by the stockpile, which is maintained by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
That didn’t happen, according to Charles Johnson, president of the International Safety Equipment Assn.
The stockpile drew down about 100 million masks during the 2009 epidemic, Johnson said.
“Our association is unaware of any major effort to restore the stockpile to cover that drawdown,” he said.