World Media

Birx Says Death Toll 'Could Have Been Mitigated'

Birx says deaths ‘could have been mitigated’ last year

Deborah Birx, the former White House coronavirus response coordinator, said that USA deaths from the virus could have been sharply reduced if mitigation efforts to slow the spread had come more quickly last spring.

Birx comments come in a preview of the upcoming documentary about the pandemic titled "COVID WAR: The Pandemic Doctors Speak Out", which airs Sunday at 9 p.m. on CNN.

In one of the clips CNN has shared ahead of the airing, for example, Birx said she believes the majority of coronavirus deaths after the initial surge in the United States could have been prevented.

At the beginning of the pandemic, shortly after he said Phase I vaccine trials wouldn't begin for "three months", Fauci claimed that "the fastest a vaccine could be ready for use on an emergency basis was one year, although the process could take up to two years".

"When I saw what happened in New York City, nearly over-running of our healthcare systems, and that's when it became very clear that the decision we made on January 10 to go all out and develop a vaccine, may have been the best decision that I've ever made with regard to intervention as the director of the institute, "he said in "COVID WAR: The Pandemic Doctors Speak Out".

"The thing that hit me like a punch to the chest was then all of a sudden he got up and said 'Liberate Virginia, Liberate Michigan, '" Fauci said of the former president. "The first time we have an excuse", Birx said.

She also said she received a "very uncomfortable" and "very difficult" phone call from Trump. "It's into the rural as equal urban areas".

When asked by CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta if she felt threatened by the former president, she repeated the exchange had been a "very uncomfortable conversation".

Trump had a rocky relationship with his coronavirus taskforce advisors, as he publicly disregarded their advice, though he more publicly sparred with Dr. Anthony Fauci, the longtime director of the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

The former surgeon general did not say anything directly about the former president, but said that it was better that public health officials like Birx didn't leave because you "can't change the game from the sidelines". Birx's statement comes as the U.S. death toll nears 550,000.

Almost 555,000 Americans have died from the coronavirus, according to Johns Hopkins University. The US's first surge in COVID-19 deaths peaked in April, with the number of reported deaths reaching 100,000 by the end of May.