Dr. Deborah Birx, the White House’s coronavirus task force response coordinator, reportedly expressed profound mistrust in the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention last week, stating according to some sources that “there is nothing from the CDC that I can trust.”
According to The Washington Post, Birx jabbed the federal public health agency during a task force discussion on COVID-19 data last Wednesday.
The tense discussion took place between Birx, the physician who oversees the administration’s coronavirus response, and CDC director Robert Redfield.
Birx and others were reportedly frustrated with the CDC’s outdated disease surveillance system, worrying that it may be inflating the actual COVID-19 mortality rate and case count by as much as 25 percent.
“There is nothing from the CDC that I can trust,” Birx told Redfield, the Post reports, citing two people familiar with the meeting.
Birx later told the Post in a statement that “mortality is slowly declining each day.”
“To keep with this trend, it is essential that seniors and those with comorbidities shelter in place and that we continue to protect vulnerable communities,” she said.
Various sources do indeed demonstrate some lack of consistency among daily coronavirus deaths reported. Johns Hopkins University, for example, puts daily deaths at close to 2,000 with no apparent downward trajectory.
One internal Trump administration model also predicted that daily coronavirus deaths hitting the 3,000 mark by June 1, according to The New York Times.
The Post reports that Redfield defended the CDC, but many other attendees of the meeting agreed that the agency needed a “digital upgrade.”
Remdesivir became another point of contention at the meeting, the Post adds. The drug, whose early clinical trials appear promising, is set to be distributed by the federal government to states hit hardest by the pandemic.
One official announced at the meeting that the government had already shipped the drug, donated by its manufacturer, Gilead Sciences, to seven states. “Why would you do that?” asked Birx, reportedly surprised at the move because the task force had not yet decided which states should be prioritized.
The Post also reports that Vice President Pence, who oversees the administration’s coronavirus task force, “grew frustrated” the following day when he asked for an update on distributing the drug and no one, not even Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, was able to provide one. On Saturday, the Department of Health and Human Services announced that another allocation of the drug would be sent to six states.
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