‘I’m a data person’: Birx pushes back report she’s tailored coronavirus data to suit policy


White House Coronavirus Task Force Coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx defended herself on Wednesday as “a person in charge of data” following a recent New York Times report portraying her as someone who had sometimes adapted his analysis of the pandemic to better suit the policy of administration officials.Fox News host Brett Baier framed the question citing a key line from the Times article, which read: “Inside the White House, Dr. Birx was the chief evangelist of the idea that the threat of the virus was disappearing.

“Have you read this article? He asked. “And what did you do with it?” ”

“I’m a data person, so I went back to that very specific day,” Birx replied. “I report data every day, so I went back to that day and looked at my report. ”

“He said we’re seeing improvements in New York and New Jersey, but we’re seeing growing concerns – and we’re not at the top in Boston and Chicago,” she said. “We have new concerns in Houston and we have new developing hot spots in Washington, DC and down south. ”

“So for me it’s a very balanced report,” Birx continued. “This is what epidemiologists and data scientists do: they just disseminate data as it exists.”

“I was surprised by the article, because most people will tell you that I am wrong on the other side – that I am too forceful and too direct often about the data and what it shows”, a- she added. “And I’ve never been called an optimist that way before.

The Times article focused on the pivotal month of April, when severe outbreaks in New York and New Jersey had subsided as others appeared elsewhere. According to the report, many of the most important decisions during this time were not made by the official White House task force led by Vice President Mike Pence, but rather by a ghost group that was meeting every weekday morning in the office of White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows. .

“One of their goals: to justify declaring victory in the fight against the virus,” Michael Shear wrote for The Times. “In this effort, they frequently sought validation from Dr Deborah L. Birx, a highly regarded infectious disease expert, who was the West Wing’s chief evangelist for the idea that the infections had peaked and that the virus was disappearing quickly.

This group is said to have devoted itself to producing evidence to support the administration’s decision to reopen the economy. Birx was the only public health expert present. If she did confer legitimacy on their decisions, she contrasted sharply with Dr Anthony Fauci, the country’s leading infectious disease specialist.

“As the pandemic worsened, Dr Fauci’s darker view of the circumstances was countered by the assurances ostensibly offered by Dr Birx’s data,” the report adds.

Since April, a slew of reports claim the White House has selectively sidelined the Fauci. In an apparent effort to discredit the publicly popular Fauci, the Trump administration last week sent various news outlets a release of documents described as “opposition research.”

However, Birx’s defense on Wednesday raised the possibility that Fauci might not be the administration’s only apparent option for a potential scapegoat. The report documenting Brix’s performance relied on administration officials who spoke on condition of anonymity.

In a separate Fox News interview on Wednesday with the network’s medical expert, Dr Marc Siegel, the president appeared to come to Birx’s defense.

“Dr. Birx is one of your great advisers who doesn’t get enough attention,” Siegel said.

“She is responsible for all the incredible work that has taken place on AIDS in Africa,” Trump replied. “Millions of people are alive right now because of her. ”

“She’s an incredible woman. A woman of extraordinary substance and style, frankly, ”he continued. “She has an incredible style. She walks into a room with a scarf and can do 15 things with it. ”

But Trump did not allude to his work on the pandemic. And Birx did not join Trump at Tuesday’s coronavirus press conference, a brief tradition that ended shortly after he did some poetry for the camera on the healing effects of ingesting disinfectants. .

At that point, the president had turned to Birx to inquire about the medical benefits of what he called “heat and light.”

“Deborah, have you ever heard of heat and light?” Trump asked. “Compared to some viruses, yes. But compared to this virus? ”

“Not as a treatment,” she replied as she shifted in her seat. “I mean, definitely a fever – it’s a good thing when you have a fever. It helps your body to respond. But not – for I saw neither heat nor light. ”

Neither Fauci nor Birx accompanied the president to the podium on Wednesday, although Trump said he spoke with Fauci. Birx was apparently in the hallway.

“I just spoke to Dr Fauci,” said the president. “Dr. Birx is right outside, and they’re giving me everything they know right now. And I’m giving you the information, and I think that’s probably a very concise way of doing it. ”

“It seems to be working very well,” he added.


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