CLAIM: More Americans have died of COVID-19 “than in World War I, World War II, the Vietnam war and 9/11 combined.”
VERDICT: MOSTLY FALSE. The total number of deaths in those conflicts, including non-combat deaths, is higher.
In his address to the nation from the White House on the one-year anniversary of the coronavirus shutdowns, President Joe Biden claimed:
I’ve told you before, I carry a card in my pocket with the number of Americans who have died from COVID to date. It’s on the back of my schedule. As of now, total deaths in America, 527,726. That’s more deaths than in World War I, World War II, the Vietnam war and 9/11 combined. They were husbands, wives, sons, and daughters, grandparents, friends, neighbors, young and old.
While the number of coronavirus deaths is to be mourned, Biden’s figures are simply incorrect.
Several mainstream media organizations debunked Biden’s claim. Newsweek, for example, noted:
As noted by the Congressional Research Service dataset, service deaths for the three wars combined—including fatalities not directly from battle—totals to 580,135. Adding 9/11 terror attack deaths brings the total to 583,112—more than COVID deaths.
- World War I: 116,516
- World War II: 405,399
- Vietnam: 58,220
- 9/11: 2,977
After fact checking the war-time statistics last month, a White House spokesperson told The Washington Post that Biden had been referring to in-combat deaths. The president did not specifically make that point during his address to the nation this week.
If battle deaths remains the methodology, it is unclear why the 9/11 terrorist attack was included in the numbers.
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki was asked about Biden’s false claim during Friday’s press briefing. She grew testy, telling the reporter: “I’m glad you’re focused on the important business.”
Apparently, American deaths do not qualify.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News and the host of Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot on Sunday evenings from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET (4 p.m. to 7 p.m. PT). He is the author of the recent e-book, Neither Free nor Fair: The 2020 U.S. Presidential Election. His recent book, RED NOVEMBER, tells the story of the 2020 Democratic presidential primary from a conservative perspective. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.