President Donald Trump has been defending his calling this COVID-19 crisis the “China Flu” since it originated in China. Many have alleged that that is racist. At Trump’s political rally Saturday night in Tulsa, he also called it the “Kung Flu,” as if that is humorous. Not a good thing to joke about since 120,000 Americans have died from COVID-19 in only four months, and many will be blaming him for a certain portion of these deaths due to his ineptness in reacting to it.
If it is permissible to call COVID-19 the China Flu, they that likely makes the so-called Spanish Flu of 1918 the “American Flu.” How so? First of all, calling that influenza the Spanish Flu was a misnomer. It was neither originated in Spain, nor was it virulent there. It got that name because that flu began at the height of WWI, which was fought in the Europe arena, and Spain was neutral in that war, thus not a participant.
The militaries of the allied powers, thus including that of the U.S., censored news about that flu to protect troop morale. By many estimates, that flu killed 50 to 100 million people, and WWI contributed immensely to those figures. But how and where did it begin?
The prevailing theory is that the influenza pandemic of 1918-1919 began in the U.S., in Kansas at pig farms. A doctor in Haskell County, Kansas, alerted the U.S. Public Health Service about an unusual fever activity that was influenza. It soon spread to the Army’s nearby Fort Riley. Infected troops that transported to other U.S. military bases and the WWI theater in Europe caused this flu to spread quickly. Since Kansas had so many pig farms, as it still does, it was believed that this influenza originated in pigs there. This was confirmed in 1999 DNA studies of the corpses of victims who died from this flu in Alaska, and their bodies were buried in permafrost, thus preserving the genetic codes.
So, if we’re going to call COVID-19 the China Flu since it originated there, which has so far killed less than 1 million people worldwide, we must allow that the Influenza of 1918-1919 can be called the American Flu, which killed 50-100 million people, since it likely originated in the USA. If Mr. Trump comfortable with doing that?