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Dr. Deborah Birx, response coordinator for the White House Coronavirus task force, told Fox News on Thursday that the initial data on the coronavirus outbreak from China did not allow US officials to prepare properly when the virus makes its way to the United States.
“The bottom line was we didn’t know how contagious it was,” Brix told Martha MacCallum at a special event at Fox News’ digital town hall. “And I think when you make the wrong assumptions about contagion at the start, then you are not preparing in the same way as you should be preparing for the level of contagion that this COVID-19 presents.” “
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MacCallum had asked Birx for evidence that the Chinese had deliberately downplayed the magnitude and virulence of the coronavirus, originally from Wuhan city, late last year.
Birx said he worked on the fight against the HIV epidemic in Africa when the virus broke out and observed COVID-19 data from China.
“I think when we looked at the profile, there was first a question about human-to-human transmission – it’s really essential because it stops with this first set of transmission,” said Dr. Birx. “So there was this first question, and I think when you’re in the middle of an epidemic, it’s hard for you to test to a level that you really have to look for these asymptomatic cases and really look for these people with a disease benign.
“So now we find out that most of the reports were for very serious cases. “
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Birx added that because the first data was produced by China in a “very difficult situation”, officials did not fully measure asymptomatic or mild cases.
“In this case,” she said, “it could be an important part of the epidemic, so we didn’t know how it spread.”