For Dr. Deborah Birx is associated with urgent calm with violent criticism

Mar 29, 2020 12:10 AM ET

This week she met with Dr. Fauci, Stephen M. Hahn, Commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, and Robert R. Redfield, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, where the group raised concerns about the acceptance of antimalarial drugs as potential treatments by the Trump Administration argued for Covid-19 to be the disease caused by the coronavirus, a senior official said.

Dr. Birx, alongside Mr. Trump and Vice President Mike Pence, was a comforting constant at coronavirus meetings and briefings, where she was one of the few regulars in a rotating staff of health officials who sat behind the White House lectern. Mr. Pence, who oversees the government’s response, introduced her to his “right arm” at the time of her appointment.

But on Thursday, this delicate balance seemed to be tipping. After speaking to New York officials, Dr. Birx, she was told that intensive care beds and “over 1,000 or 2,000” ventilators were still available. She also declined messages from hospitals that worked out blanket non-resuscitation orders for seriously ill Covid 19 patients.

“To tell the American people that, to imply that if they need a hospital bed, it won’t be there, or if they need this ventilator, it won’t be there – we have no evidence of that at the moment,” she said .

Just a few meters away was Dr. Fauci, a long-time friend and mentor of Dr. Birx, who had his own message: crouch down. He said the corona virus could become cyclical. He warned that a vaccine was still many months away. And he said that therapeutic treatments that Mr. Trump has eagerly promoted as a “game changer” have not yet been proven.

“The best way to get the best drug as soon as possible is to do a randomized controlled trial so you know it’s safe and effective,” he said. “If it’s not effective, take it off the board and go to the next step.”

The realities on site seem to be Dr. Favor Fauci’s warnings. Dr. Mahshid Abir, an emergency doctor at the University of Michigan and an expert in hospital care, said Friday that bottlenecks are inevitable. Hospital systems not only in New York, but also in Atlanta, Seattle and New Orleans are already warning that they will have or will reach capacity in the coming days.

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