The disappointing downfall of Dr. Deborah Birx

WASHINGTON - After President Trump's amazing suggestion in April that people might want to inject disinfectant to clear the coronavirus from their bodies, much of the public response has centered on Dr. Deborah Birx.
The respected AIDS doctor, who joined the White House's coronavirus task force earlier this year, sat in the Brady Briefing Room to the right of the president, pondering alternative cures. Cameras captured her astonished reaction - and announced social media memes - which perfectly reflected Americans' growing anger at a president who consistently infiltrated and defamed science and created confusion every time he stepped on the podium.
"Dr. Birx is all of us right now," read a tweet from a prominent Trump critic that was shared thousands of times. The accompanying video was viewed by 21 million people.
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Dr. White House Coronavirus Response Coordinator Deborah Birx listens to President Trump in April. (Alex Brandon / AP)
At the time of this briefing in late April, Birx had become a celebrity embodied in "Saturday Night Live" and viewed by countless news outlets as a "coronavirus warrior" with a fashion sense. Her seemingly never-ending collection of high-end scarves caught a public fascination of its own, perhaps for no reason other than that it offered a break from the Trump administration's procession of white men in mild suits.
Together with Dr. Anthony Fauci was seen by Birx as a potential antithesis to Trump and those who favored his worst impulses. It could apparently turn him away from bad science and keep the nation safe. When she and Fauci stepped down from the public eye in May, concerns about the government's handling of the pandemic increased.
"I think it is crucial that we bring Fauci and Birx forward," said Rep. Kim Schrier, D-Wash., A doctor herself, to Politico.
Eight months later, Fauci and Birx are in different positions. On the same day that Fauci publicly received the coronavirus vaccine at the headquarters of the National Institutes of Health in suburban Maryland, Birx announced that she was about to retire. And while Fauci will be an advisor to President-elect Joe Biden, Birx is unlikely to join the new administration. Although she had expressed interest in working for Biden, she was not asked to. A spokeswoman for the Biden transition would not comment on her status.
The White House also declined to comment on her retirement or work on the coronavirus task force.
It didn't help much that Birx seemed to be ignoring her own leadership when she traveled to her vacation home in Delaware the day after Thanksgiving, despite warning Americans to stay home and avoid large gatherings. Although many elected officials have done the same, and some have rejected the public health advice altogether, Birx is one of the most visible medical professionals in the country, making her Delaware trip a more serious offense than similar transgressions by Austin and Denver mayors. or even the governor of California.
"To me, this disqualifies her from any future government health position," said Georgetown virologist Dr. Angela Rasmussen told Associated Press, adding that Birx had sent "terrible news" to the American people.
Birx will leave the federal government with a long history of fighting HIV / AIDS around the world. However, her role on the White House's coronavirus task force has not been without turmoil or controversy.
President Trump with Birx at a White House briefing in April. (Alex Brandon / AP)
On the one hand, Birx had a better relationship with Trump than Fauci. While the president was sometimes irritated by Fauci's notoriety, the woman he sometimes called "Debbie" never sought the limelight. And she went out of her way to praise Trump than Fauci. In a March interview with the Christian Broadcasting Network, Birx said Trump was "attentive to the scientific literature" and praised his ability to "analyze and integrate data." It was a description that contradicted reports by a president who disregarded scientific advice and wanted to get out of the pandemic as soon as possible.
While she continued to issue many science-based warnings, the CBN interview did real damage to her credibility. Many viewed her as just another White House official who was more concerned with pleasing the president than telling him the truth.
Her reputation was not bolstered by an in-depth New York Times investigation into Trump's mistreatment of the July virus, which described her as a "constant source of optimistic news for the president and his aides" charting the halls in emphasized this The outbreaks gradually subsided. "
By the fall, Birx again warned of the spread of the coronavirus in much of the United States, arguing that the pandemic had entered a dangerous new phase.
But while Fauci had managed to separate his reputation from that of president, Birx remained tied to Trump. House spokeswoman Nancy Pelosi called her "the worst". The president wasn't much friendlier. As the election drew near, he had little patience with their renewed concerns about the spread of the virus. In a tweet, he said Birx was "pathetic".
Dr. Anthony Fauci is preparing to receive his first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine on Tuesday. (Patrick Semansky-Pool / Getty Images)
Then Trump appointed Stanford University neuroradiologist Dr. Scott Atlas, as his new top coronavirus advisor. Atlas was unqualified to provide epidemiological advice and urged Trump to ignore mask wearing and social distancing.
Atlas would resign shortly after the presidential election. Fauci remains the head of the National Institute for Allergies and Infectious Diseases, evidence of his skillful handling of a complex political situation. Shortly before the election, Trump threatened that Fauci would be fired if he won.
Now Trump will go and Birx will follow.
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In this article
Election Center 2020
Deborah Birx
Donald Trump
Anthony Fauci

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