Washington It didn’t take long for a US regional newspaper to find an old quote from Deborah Birx in the archive. Vice President Mike Pence had just appointed Birx as coordinator of the White House Corona Task Force in late February. “I like rocks, they are more stable than humans,” Birx is quoted in 1972. Birx was still a teenager and had just received an award for her science project on fossils.
When the 64-year-old stands behind the lectern at the daily briefing of her task force, she actually embodies something like the rock of consistency between the other protagonists. On the one hand there is the volatile US President Donald Trump himself.
He uses the briefing, which is broadcast in the USA by all major news broadcasters, primarily as a forum for his monologues. His leitmotif: repeatedly emphasize how he, Trump, recognized the risk of corona early and resolutely combated it and how the US economy would soon flourish under him.
Then there is Pence, official head of the task force, but above all Trump’s faithful. The vice can be mocked by his boss for always holding the board with the corona rules of conduct in the camera.
Obama still used Birx
Birx is safe from such attacks by the president. This is partly due to her competence as a medical doctor – and partly due to the seriousness of the situation. For the Easter weekend, Birx expects the pandemic to culminate in the metropolises of New York, Detroit and New Orleans, the current corona epicenter in the United States.
Thousands, if not tens of thousands, of Americans will die of coronavirus over the Easter weekend. Trump knows that if he attacked Birx in this situation, he would not be able to collect points.
Birx is one of the few political survivors from the Barack Obama era in the White House. Trump’s predecessor had appointed the internist with a doctorate in 2014 as the coordinator of the US government for the global fight against AIDS.
Birx had previously spent many years as a scientist and colonel in the service of the US Army looking for a vaccine and also campaigning for AIDS. She has now also taken on the job as corona coordinator.
Birx has a close relationship with another member of the Corona Task Force: the 79-year-old immunologist Anthony Fauci, for whom Birx worked in the 80s and whom she still calls her mentor.
“He understood the data”
The two achieved their masterpiece, according to reports from the US media, when they convinced Trump in his office last weekend in March to uphold the anti-corona recommendations until the end of April. Trump originally wanted to return to normality from Easter, which economic advisers had also urged him to do.
But the two doctors presented Trump with a model calculation that would then result in over two million corona deaths in the United States.
Afterwards, Fauci described the crucial moment in an interview with CNN: “Dr. Birx and I went to the Oval Office together and leaned over the desk and said, here is the data, take a look and he looked at it and understood it. “
Trump does not usually have a reputation for being too willing to listen to scientific facts or being particularly open to dissenting opinions. However, the duo Birx and Fauci have so far been surprisingly successful in convincing Trump. Conversely, Birx in particular takes great care not to contradict Trump in front of the camera.
When Birx returns to her family after a turbulent day at the White House, she can’t really hope for a quiet end of the day. The doctor lives in a household with her husband, her adult daughter, her son-in-law, her grandchildren and her elderly parents. Accordingly, Birx says he pays attention to the smallest signs of a possible corona infection.
More: Donald Trump is often criticized for his policies via social media. Now it really seems to make sense. A comment.