Health

Birx describes a White House divided on COVID response

Deborah Birx

WASHINGTON — A lack of clear, concise and consistent messaging about the seriousness of the novel coronavirus in the earliest months of its spread created a false sense of security among Americans that the pandemic would not be serious and resulted in inaction early on across the federal government.

That was the assessment of Dr. Deborah Birx, who served as the COVID response coordinator under former President Donald Trump and testified for the first time Thursday before a House panel about her time in the Trump administration.

“It wasn’t just the president, many of our leaders, were using words like ‘we could contain,’ and you cannot contain a virus that cannot be seen,” Birx said. “And it wasn’t being seen because we weren’t testing.”

Birx appeared before the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis, whose partisan divide was evident throughout the hearing as Democrats focused their attention on missteps made during the Trump administration while Republicans did the same when it came to Democratic-led states such as New York or under the Biden administration, such as when President Joe Biden overstated the efficacy of vaccines by telling Americans in a CNN town hall, “You’re not going to get COVID if you have these vaccinations.”

Much of the hearing focused on concerns Birx had about strategies promoted by Dr. Scott Atlas, who joined the White House as a pandemic adviser in the summer of 2020 and argued that it was all right for low-risk people to get infected with the virus as long as the vulnerable are protected. Birx was asked why she considered that view so dangerous.

“Dr. Atlas’s view was anybody who was not going to have severe disease should be allowed to become infected,” Birx said. The difficulty, she said was the premise that the country could then “magically separate the 50 or 60 million vulnerable Americans from that infection at a high level.”

She said that when Atlas and other officials espoused that view about the virus, it created doubts with the American public.

“It created a sense that anything could be right,” she said.

Birx also said that Atlas’s tenure “destroyed any cohesion in the response of the White House itself.”

To underscore the divide in the White House, the subcommittee released new emails, including from Birx to then-CDC Director Robert Redfield, then FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn and Dr. Anthony Fauci, head of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

In the August. 11,…

Click Here to Read the Full Original Article at ABC News: Health…