Numerous former Donald Trump administration officials criticized the 45th president’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic in a series of televised interviews on March 28.
Dr. Deborah Birx, the coronavirus response coordinator under Trump, indicated that hundreds of thousands of Americans may have died needlessly due to the administration’s response.
Dr. Stephen Hahn, the former commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, joined in the criticism, along with former CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield, testing czar Admiral Brett Giroir, and Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
Birx told CNN she feels the first 100,000 deaths experienced in the U.S. were unavoidable. “I look at it this way,” Birx said. “The first time, we have an excuse. There were about 100,000 deaths that came from that original surge.”
Since the pandemic started, about 550,000 Americans have lost their lives to COVID-19, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. Birx noted that the remaining 450,000 deaths “could have been mitigated or decreased substantially.”
Redfield additionally accused Trump’s former health secretary, Alex Azar, of “pressuring him to revise scientific reports” to make the administration look better, according to the New York Times. Azar denied the accusations in a statement to the Times.
A major issue with the Trump administration’s COVID response, as noted by both Giroir and Redfield, was in its early efforts at testing. An attitude within the White House that testing, and therefore reporting more cases, would make the president look bad was listed as a serious early problem. The administration also had fewer tests than reported at the time, according to Giroir.
“When we said there were millions of tests—there weren’t, right?” he said. “There were components of the test available but not the full deal.”