Birx: Trump adviser squeezed out health officials to downplay seriousness of Covid-19

“I just felt like it gave the people in the White House an alternate position and a source of data that allowed them to say, this is Debbie Birx, this is a federal employee for 40 years, this is Scott Atlas, an academic, a doctor , a thinker. ”versus a technocrat; and I just had the feeling that it would make it even more difficult to convey how severe I felt autumn and winter. And it was my concern in autumn and winter that I did not want a 180 degree vote at critical decision-making meetings. “

Birx could not be reached for comment.

Rep. Jim Clyburn, chairman of the elected panel, said in a statement that Birx’s report shows how Trump’s prioritization of politics and refusal to follow advice from public health experts undermined the response to Covid-19. “It is a tragedy that, according to Dr. Birx could have saved the lives of more than 130,000 Americans if the previous administration and Republican governors listened to scientists and had proven mitigation measures to stop the virus from spreading, such as masks, “Clyburn said.

Atlas, a radiologist and fellow at Stanford University’s conservative Hoover Institution with no prior experience of fighting infectious diseases, joined the White House as a Special Government Agent in August 2020 after making TV appearances on Fox News addressing fears over Covid- 19 denounced as excessive. He battled senior medical experts after appearing to advocate the concept of “herd immunity” – the controversial theory that the United States can quickly and safely achieve widespread immunity to the coronavirus by allowing it to spread freely among healthy people.

Within the government, Birx and other senior health officials have repeatedly expressed concerns to senior White House officials about Atlas’ influence on government decision-making. But her complaints had little resonance, she said.

“I was able to see the aftermath of what was happening in the United States and the severity of the virus among the most sick and my concerns about those who may have been less ill,” Birx told the panel, adding that she expressed her concerns with . shared both Trump and then Vice President Mike Pence, who headed the White House’s Covid-19 Task Force. “And there’s a person in the White House who basically wants the community to expand.”

Atlas resigned in November 2020 after its 130-day detail as the government’s special envoy expired.

The panel selected has been investigating the Trump administration’s coronavirus response since September 2020, shortly after a POLITICO story revealed how policy officials disrupted the government’s weekly morbidity and mortality reports, written by career scholars and usually free of political interference are. Since then, the panel has also highlighted evidence that appeared to show other cases of political interference in the response to the pandemic.

Birx said she gave Atlas data showing the virus is spreading across age groups, but that Atlas “took every opportunity” to roll back efforts to control its spread in the community. The mixed news that emerged from an administration split over how to tackle the pandemic undermined the work of the White House’s Covid-19 Task Force and the message it sent to states about the need to control the spread of the virus, she said.

When asked whether Atlas had specifically had a negative effect on the Covid-19 reaction, Birx replied: “It certainly made execution difficult.”

Leave a Comment