CNN Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta asked six of the doctors who ran the pandemic response in 2020, including Dr. Deborah Birx, to give their insight on what the US could have done differently in the new documentary, “COVID WAR: The Pandemic Doctors Speak Out,” which airs Sunday at 9 p.m. ET on CNN. The doctors painfully dissected the country’s missteps that led to the terrible loss of life and great number of cases. Birx stated that the vast majority of America’s deaths could have been prevented.
Dr. Deborah Birx served as the White House coronavirus response coordinator under the Trump administration and said that the number of coronavirus deaths could have been “decreased substantially” if cities and states across the country had aggressively applied the lessons of the first surge toward mitigation last spring, possibly preventing the surges that followed.
While Dr. Anthony Fauci and Dr. Rochelle Walensky, President Joe Biden’s pick to lead the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, keep asking Americans to mask up and socially distance, especially since the new variants are rising, it may be time to examine what went wrong.
“I look at it this way. The first time we have an excuse,” Birx says. “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.”
A Columbia University study released last year concluded that earlier intervention could have saved tens of thousands of lives. Researchers built a model to examine transmission rates between March 15 and May 3, 2020 and they determined that if the country had shut down two weeks earlier, it could have prevented 84% of the deaths at that time.
It is important to stop the confusing messages and react in a safe manner, about vaccines, masks, and social distancing. If we can come to the point where the virus has no place to go, because of all of these preventative measures, then we will have reduced the opportunity for the virus and its variants.