Trump wrote on Tuesday that the flu season is coming up.
“Many people every year, sometimes over 100,000, and despite the Vaccine, die from the Flu. Are we going to close down our Country? No, we have learned to live with it, just like we are learning to live with Covid, in most populations far less lethal!!!” the president wrote.
A Facebook spokesman confirmed the company removed Trump’s post on the social media platform.
“We remove incorrect information about the severity of COVID-19, and have now removed this post,” Andy Stone said in a statement.
Twitter appended a warning that shielded the content from users unless they clicked “view.” The warning said Trump’s tweet “violated the Twitter Rules about spreading misleading and potentially harmful information related to COVID-19.”
Flu season is coming up! Many people every year, sometimes over 100,000, and despite the Vaccine, die from the Flu. Are we going to close down our Country? No, we have learned to live with it, just like we are learning to live with Covid, in most populations far less lethal!!!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 6, 2020
Neither company responded to a request for comment on how they decided to take action against Trump’s post, and what evidence they used.
COVID-19 is a disease caused by the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus. The virus does affect different populations differently, according to federal health officials and data from the U.S. government and other health agencies around the world.
For instance, children are, for the most part, not severely affected by COVID-19. As of Aug. 13, just 90 children have died from COVID-19 complications, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics (pdf). Influenza led to nearly 480 deaths in children during the 2018-19 flu season, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Children are important drivers of influenza virus transmission but initial data shows they are both less affected than adults by COVID-19 and typically contract the new disease from adults, rather than vice versa, according to the World Health Organization (pdf).
The effects of both flu and COVID-19 increase in older people, and are the worst in elderly populations. The most deaths involving COVID-19 are among those 85 years of age or older, according to the CDC.
COVID-19 has struck the elderly in America much harder than the average flu strain. While 25,555 people 65 or older are estimated to have died from the flu during the 2018-19 flu season, according to the CDC, nearly 60,000 deaths among those 85 or older involving COVID-19 have been recorded from February through late September.
Outside of age groups, people with underlying medical conditions have a higher risk of requiring hospital care for COVID-19 than those without such conditions. For instance, diabetes increases the risk by three times; severe obesity increases it 4.5 times, according to the CDC.
Overall, COVID-19 does appear to have led to more deaths than the flu.
Nearly 200,000 deaths in the United States involved COVID-19 as of Sept. 30, according to the CDC. The estimated deaths from influenza in 2018-19 were 34,157.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told NBC that one claim in Trump’s tweet wasn’t quite correct.
“You don’t get a pandemic that kills a million people and it isn’t even over yet within influenza,” Fauci said. “So it is not correct to say it’s the same as flu. It has some overlapping symptomatology early on. But flu doesn’t do the things to you that COVID-19 can.”
But he declined to comment further.
“I have a job to do, and my personally contradicting the president of the United States publicly is not a good thing if I want to get my job done,” Fauci added.
Dr. Ashish Kha, dean of the Brown University School of Public Health, added during a virtual appearance on CBS on Wednesday that “COVID is about 5 to 10 times more deadly than the flu, for almost every age group.”
“So at this moment, comparing the two, I think, is irresponsible,” he added.
Rep. Ralph Abraham (R-La.), a doctor, said in a social media statement that Twitter censored Trump for stating a fact.
“Twitter censored @realDonaldTrump for suggesting children are far less susceptible to COVID-19 than adults – a well-known fact – because it goes against the left-wing agenda to keep schools closed, people out of work, and destroy our economy to influence the election,” he said.
After Twitter and Facebook took action, Trump took to Twitter to urge a repeal of Section 230 of the Communications and Decency Act. The section currently protects platforms against lawsuits.
A Senate chairman was authorized this month to subpoena Jack Dorsey, the CEO of Twitter, and Mark Zuckerberg, the CEO of Facebook, to question them about their censorship of users as Congress considers altering Section 230.
“BIG TECH MUST STOP THE BIAS!” Trump’s campaign added on Tuesday.