Dr Deborah Birx, who served as the White House Coronavirus Response Coordinator under Trump, has spoken out against the former president in a new interview.
Dr Birx, who was an early fixture at White House Covid-19 press conferences, alleges that Trump and his administration deliberately distorted their own understanding of the virus to suit their agenda.
She told CBS that there were Covid-19 deniers in the White House and that most staff members refused to wear masks.
Starting with these, here are 5 of Dr Birx’s most shocking claims:
1. Trump presented unofficial Covid-19 graphs.
Dr Birx alleged that Trump solicited data from unknown and unofficial sources and presented it in place of her data. She said:
“I’m convinced there were parallel data streams. I saw the president presenting graphs that I never made. So I know that someone out there or someone inside was creating a parallel set of data and graphics that were shown to the president. I don’t know who to this day who. But I know what I sent up and I know that what was in his hands was different from that. ”
2. There were people in the White House who believed Covid-19 was a hoax.
Trump “appreciated the gravity” of Covid-19 in March, according to Dr Birx, but there were others in the White House who didn’t really believe in its deadly effects. She said:
“There were people who definitely believed that this was a hoax. I think because the information was confusing at the beginning; I think because we didn’t talk about the spectrum of the disease. Because everyone interpreted it on what they knew and so they saw people get Covid and be fine.”
3. She hardly ever got to see Trump.
After the springtime, their contact was minimal – despite the fact that Dr Birx was in charge of the White House’s Covid-19 response. Reflecting on an interview she gave to CNN in early August, she said:
“I hadn’t seen him for months before that or months after that.”
She later added:
“There was only one full-time person in the White House working on the coronavirus response.”
She claims that her requests for further staff members were denied.
4. Most people in the White House around Trump didn’t wear masks.
Asked how it came about that Trump caught Covid-19 himself, Dr Birx said:
“There were only two people who regularly wore a mask in the White House. Myself and Tyler Ann McGuffee, the support person that I had from HHS. I think people believed, wrongly, that testing would be adequate. [That] testing is a surrogate for a public health intervention.
“Remember when I was talking about the stream of data coming in? They were mixing data that didn’t have anything to do with the relevance of masking as a public health measure to change it into masking as a personal protective measure.”
5. She was mischaracterised as an apologist for Trump.
After Trump’s most erratic Covid-19 press conference, in which he variously suggested “heat and light” and injecting “disinfectant” as effective cures, some of his medical advisors including Dr Birx were criticised for not sufficiently challenging the president’s unfounded claims.
But Dr Birx says that she wasn’t given the opportunity to respond to his comments about bleach.
“He was not speaking to me. He was speaking to the DHS scientist that was two seats over from me that entire time.”
She went on to add that when he did ask her about “heat and light”, she said it was “not a treatment”. This is borne out by a transcript of the press conference. She said:
“Not as a treatment. I mean, certainly fever is a good thing. When you have a fever, it helps your body respond. But I’ve not seen heat or light as a–” before being cut off by Trump reaffirming “I think that’s a great thing to look at. Okay?”
She admitted, however, that at that moment she felt unprepared.
“Was I prepared for that? No, I wasn’t prepared for that. I didn’t even know what to do in that moment.”
She added that she didn’t approach the podium to correct the president, as some people suggested she should, because she wasn’t “given the opportunity”.
Dr Birx indicated in December that she intended to retire and that she found her role to be “overwhelming”. This came after she was criticised for hosting a Thanksgiving dinner with more than one household.
She stepped down on 20 January.