- Dr. Deborah Birx said thousands of Americans died from preventable deaths from COVID-19.
- During an interview with CNN, he said that everything after the first increase could have been mitigated.
- But some people, including Representative Ted Lieu, responded by accusing her of allowing Trump.
- See more stories on the Insider business page.
Dr. Deborah Birx, a former member of the White House coronavirus response team, said that thousands of Americans died from preventable deaths from COVID-19 and that everything after the initial increase could have been mitigated.
Birx spoke during an interview with CNN’s Dr. Sanjay Gupta for the network’s upcoming coronavirus documentary airing Sunday.
A clip of Birx’s comments was shared on Saturday.
“I look at it this way: the first time we have an excuse. There were about 100,000 deaths that came from that original increase,” said Birx, who served under the Trump administration. “All the others, in my opinion, could have been mitigated or substantially decreased.”
According to Birx, more than 80% of American deaths could have been mitigated: At this point, nearly 550,000 people in the US have died from COVID-19, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. The United States reached 100,000 deaths at the end of May 2020.
Read more: Insider found that 20 governors have not received their COVID-19 vaccine. Here’s who and why.
Birx was a controversial member of the coronavirus task force and was often criticized for not explicitly rejecting President Donald Trump when he contradicted the advice of public health officials and medical experts on preventing the transmission of the coronavirus.
—CNN Newsroom (@CNNnewsroom) March 27, 2021
Some of those criticisms resurfaced Saturday when the clip of his interview with CNN made the rounds on Twitter.
Democratic Representative Ted Lieu from California, who also served as an impeachment manager against Trump in January, accused Birx of being partly responsible for preventable deaths.
“The malicious incompetence that resulted in hundreds of thousands of unnecessary deaths starts at the top, with the former president and his facilitators,” Lieu said in a tweet. “And who was one of his facilitators? Dr. Birx, who was afraid to challenge his unscientific rhetoric and unfairly praised him.”
Many others on Twitter he also intervened, accusing Birx of being an accomplice. Some also recirculated a old clip from March 2020 in which Birx praised Trump like being “attentive to the scientific literature and the details and the data.”
Since then, she has said she liked working on the road under the Trump administration because it wasn’t “censored” like it was in the White House.
Another doctor interviewed by CNN on Saturday said he agreed with Birx about the preventable deaths from COVID-19, but that it “happened under his supervision.”
“She was the White House pandemic coordinator. This was her job,” said Dr. Jonathan Reiner of George Washington University. “And if things weren’t going his way, it was his duty to stand up and speak.”
As for how many deaths could be prevented, Reiner compared the United States to Germany, a country that he said had a “mediocre” pandemic response. And yet, if the United States had a similar per capita death toll as Germany, only 300,000 Americans would be dead.
“A quarter of a million Americans would be alive today,” he said.
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