Biden's Ex-Chief of Staff Responds to Trump Attack on Swine Flu Handling by Comparing Coronavirus Test Numbers

Ronald Klain, the one-time chief of staff to former Vice President Joe Biden, who served as a response coordinator for the Obama administration's ebola response team, has sought to set the record straight after President Donald Trump claimed Biden's handling of the swine flu outbreak was "one of the worst on record."

Trump attacked Biden's handling of the swine flu outbreak in a tweet on Thursday, saying "Sleepy Joe Biden was in charge of the H1N1 Swine Flu epidemic which killed thousands of people. The response was one of the worst on record."

Meanwhile, he said, "our response [to the coronavirus outbreak] is one of the best, with faction of border closings & a 78% Approval Rating, the highest on record. His was lowest."

The president's tweet came after Biden delivered a speech condemning the Trump administration's response to the coronavirus outbreak and detailing how a Biden presidency would tackle the crisis.

Trump's claim of a "78% approval rating" appeared to come from a Gallup poll from early February, when global concern over the coronavirus outbreak was still relatively low.

At the time, the poll found that more than three quarters, or 77 percent, of Americans had "high confidence" in the government's ability to deal with the outbreak.

However, the same study also appears to refute Trump's claim that the Obama administration's "approval rating" for its handling on H1N1 was the "lowest," with the poll noting that 67 percent of the public had expressed high confidence in the Obama administration's response to the swine flu outbreak in 2009.

Confidence ratings in the government's handling of the 2005 avian flu outbreak, the 2014 ebola virus, the 2017 zika virus were all lower.

Taking aim at Trump, Klain, who served as the U.S. Ebola response coordinator in late 2014 into early 2015, sought to set the record straight by comparing the Trump administration's coronavirus testing numbers with the Obama administration's H1N1 testing numbers.

"Facts: The Obama administration tested 1 million people for H1N1 in the first month after the first US diagnosed case," he said. "The first US #coronavirus case was 50+ days ago. And we haven't even tested 10,000 people yet."

Biden Klain
Then-Vice President Joseph Biden joined by then-Ebola Response Coordinator Ron Klain, speaks during a meeting regarding Ebola at the Eisenhower Executive office building November 13, 2014 in Washington, D.C. Mark Wilson/Getty

During a Thursday House Oversight and Reform Committee hearing on Thursday, health officials provided an update that as many as 11,000 people had been tested for coronavirus in the U.S.

However, compared to other countries, such as South Korea, where nearly that many have been tested per day, the U.S. has struggled with its rollout of coronavirus testing.

That was something that Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease, acknowledged during a committee hearing, with the expert asserting that the U.S. was "failing" in its ability to test Americans for coronavirus.

"The system is not really geared to what we need right now, what you are asking for," Fauci said. "That is a failing. It is a failing. Let's admit it," he said.

Newsweek has contacted Klain and the Trump administration for further comment.