The number of coronavirus deaths in the US would have ‘decreased substantially’ if cities and states had learned from the first surge that claimed 100,000 lives, Dr Deborah Birx said.

Birx, who spearheaded the Trump administration’s response to the pandemic, claimed subsequent surges could have been ‘mitigated’ if the lessons had been learned and acted on.

Speaking in a new CNN documentary ‘COVID WAR: The Pandemic Doctors Speak Out,’ which airs Sunday at 9 p.m. ET on CNN, Dr Birx has no doubt that the developing outbreak could and should have been handled differently.

‘I look at it this way. The first time we have an excuse,’ Birx said.

‘There were about a hundred thousand deaths that came from that original surge. All of the rest of them, in my mind, could have been mitigated or decreased substantially.’

Dr Birx spearheaded the Trump administration’s response to the pandemic

Dr. Deborah Birx and National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Dr. Anthony Fauci listen as President Trump speaks with the coronavirus task force in March 2020

A study from Columbia University – using a model to examine transmission rates between March 15 and May 3, 2020 – determined that if the country had shut down two weeks earlier, it could have prevented 84% of deaths at the time.

With more than 550,000 American lives lost to the virus so far, the White House announced Thursday it will spend $10 billion to convince people to get the COVID vaccine as rates of infection are on the rise in the United States and experts warn of a fourth surge.

The money, which comes in part from President Joe Biden ‘s $1.9 trillion America Rescue Plan, will also be used to expand access to the vaccine in communities of color, rural areas and low-income populations, according to a White House fact sheet.

The funds will also be used to ‘increase vaccine confidence across the country.’

The focus on increasing vaccine rates comes as the United States crossed 30 million coronavirus infections this week, more variants of the virus are being detected, and several states are – against the advice of health experts – lifting mitigation measures such as mask wearing.

The White House announced Thursday it will spend $10 billion to convince people to get the COVID vaccine and to expand access to the vaccine in communities of color, rural areas and low-income populations

Earlier this week, Dr. Anthony Fauci dismissed the belief from former Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Robert Redfield who says he believes that COVID-19 leaked from a Wuhan lab.

Redfield had said in an interview with CNN ‘s Dr. Sanjay Gupta on Friday his opinion was that the coronavirus had spread from the Wuhan Institute of Virology and that it had been spreading in China for months before it was detected.

‘I’m of the point of view that I still think the most likely etiology of this pathology in Wuhan was from a laboratory. Escaped. Other people don’t believe that. That’s fine. Science will eventually figure it out,’ Redfield said.

The former director of the CDC , Robert Redfield, says he believes COVID-19 ‘escaped’ from a lab in Wuhan and may have been circling since September 2019

Dr. Anthony Fauci dismissed the belief from former Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Robert Redfield who had claimed that COVID-19 leaked from a Wuhan lab

Fauci, however, shot down those claims when asked about them at Friday’s White House COVID-19 briefing – noting that if the virus had been circulating for months it would make the assertion that it came from a lab less likely.

‘So when you think about the possibilities of how this virus appeared in the human population, obviously there are a number of theories,’ Fauci said in the briefing .

‘The issue that would have someone think it’s possible to have escaped from a lab would mean that it essentially entered the outside human population already well adapted to humans, suggesting that it was adapted in the lab.’

However, Fauci said that most public health officials believe that the virus was actually circulating in China for a month or more before they were clinically recognized at the end of December 2019.

Researchers work in a lab of Wuhan Institute of Virology in Wuhan, China in 2017

‘If that were the case, the virus clearly could have adapted itself to a greater efficiency of transmissibility over that period of time up to and at the time it was recognized,’ Fauci said.

‘So, Dr. Redfield was mentioning that he was giving an opinion as to a possibility. But, again, there are other alternatives — others that most people hold by.’

Later in the briefing, Fauci was again asked about Redfield’s comments and said ‘he’s entitled to his opinion now.’

‘I think what he likely was expressing is that there certainly are possibilities, as I mentioned just a few moments ago, of how a virus adapt itself to a efficient spread among humans,’ Fauci said.

He said it is ‘more likely’ that the virus flew under the radar ‘spreading in the community in China for several weeks, if not a month or more, which allowed it, when it first got recognized clinically, to be pretty well adapted.’

‘COVID WAR: The Pandemic Doctors Speak Out,’ airs Sunday at 9 p.m. ET on CNN



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