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One of former President Donald Trump’s key coronavirus advisers thinks his administration could have prevented up to 40 percent of U.S. coronavirus deaths with a better pandemic response.
That’s what Dr. Deborah Birx told investigators with the House Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis during interviews on Oct. 12 and 13, according to excerpts of the interview transcripts released by the committee.
“I believe if we had fully implemented the mask mandates, the reduction in indoor dining, the getting friends and family to understand the risk of gathering in private homes, and we had increased testing, we probably could have decreased fatalities into the 30 percent–less to 40 percent–less range,” Birx told the committee.
That accounts for more than 130,000 deaths, according to the committee.
Birx, a longtime public health official, was front and center in the Trump administration’s coronavirus response as the White House Coronavirus Response Coordinator from February 2020 through the end of his term in office.
Asked if Trump did as much as he could have in order to prevent loss of life, Birx responded: “No. And I’ve said that to the White House in general, and I believe I was very clear to the president in specifics of what I needed him to do.”
Rep. James Clyburn, the chair of the subcommittee and the third-ranking Democrat in the House, said in a statement that Birx’s interviews “confirm that President Trump’s prioritization of politics, contempt for science, and refusal to follow the advice of public health experts undermined the nation’s ability to respond effectively to the coronavirus crisis.”
A spokesperson for Trump pushed back on Birx and claimed that Biden’s response to the COVID crisis has been worse.
“President Trump led an unprecedented effort to successfully combat the coronavirus, delivering PPE, hospital beds, treatments, and three vaccines in record time,” Trump spokesperson Liz Harrington told the Washington Post. “Unfortunately, this approach was not taken up by the current government, and more lives have been lost from COVID this year than the entirety of 2020, which the Fake News media places no blame onto Joe Biden.”
More than 400,000 people died of coronavirus before Trump left office on January 20. At present, more than 738,000 people total have died from COVID-19 during the entirety of the pandemic.