FACT CHECK: Did The 2009 Swine Flu Pandemic Kill 18,000 Americans?

Elias Atienza | Senior Reporter

A viral Facebook post claims that the 2009 H1N1 pandemic killed 18,000 people in the U.S. and that the media did not report on it.

Verdict: False

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that 12,469 people died from the 2009 swine flu. The pandemic was heavily covered by major media outlets.

Fact Check:

The viral post attempts to make a comparison between the 2009 H1N1 pandemic and the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, saying, “I’m confused… during the Swine Flu, 18,000 Americans lost their lives and the press said nothing. What’s different this time?”

Swine flu, also called pandemic H1N1, swept through the U.S. in 2009, sickening roughly 61 million Americans. The CDC estimates that the virus killed 12,469 people in the U.S. – not 18,000, as the post claims.

Between 151,700 and 575,400 people died from swine flu worldwide, a 2012 study estimated. (RELATED: Can Colloidal Silver ‘Kill’ Coronavirus?)

The post’s claim that the media didn’t cover the swine flu pandemic doesn’t hold up either. Major broadcast networks covered it extensively, as did digital and print publications. For the week of April 27 to May 3, 2009, swine flu “accounted for almost a third of mainstream media coverage,” according to Pew Research Center.

The 2009 H1N1 pandemic came roughly 11 years before the current COVID-19 pandemic that has, as of March 25, killed more than 19,600 people.

Elias Atienza

Senior Reporter
Follow Elias on Twitter Have a fact check suggestion? Send ideas to [email protected].