Donald Trump has inaccurately claimed that the 1918 Spanish Flu pandemic ended World War II – a conflict that started two decades later.
Speaking at a White House press briefing on Monday evening, the president also got the year the pandemic started wrong.
He told reporters: ‘The closest thing [to coronavirus] is in 1917 they say, the great 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 Spanish Flu, which is also known as the 1918 flu pandemic, lasted for two years and is estimated to have killed 50 million people worldwide.
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World War II began more than two decades after the pandemic in 1939, when Hitler invaded Poland.
Britain and France declared war two days later, sparking a six-year long conflict that ended when Japan surrendered unconditionally after the US dropped an atomic bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
White House officials said that the president misspoke and had been referring to WWI, which began in 1914 and ended in 1918.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the deployment of troops during the First World War plausibly contributed to the spread of the Spanish Flu due to intercontinental movement and crowded conditions.
However, the Spanish Flu did not officially cause the end of that conflict, which came from Germany signing an armistice after suffering great losses on the battlefield.
The president was ridiculed and criticised on Twitter for his mistake, as Second World War began trending.
Star Trek actor George Takei tweeted about the 75th anniversary of the Nagasaki bomb on August 9, which brought ‘a long and devastating war to a shattering, violent end.’
‘Remember history. Don’t distort it,’ he said.
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