Here’s Dr. Birx With a Few Minutes of Calm Reality, Rebutting a Lot of Virus Myths Out There

Dr. Deborah Birx, White House coronavirus response coordinator, speaks about the coronavirus in the James Brady Briefing Room, Wednesday, March 25, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

We’ve seen a lot of people throwing numbers out there and models of how many people might get the virus.

Some of those models or estimates predicting that millions are going to die are just flat out wrong and irresponsibly panicking people, as Dr. Deborah Birx pointed out both on Wednesday and then again on Thursday, bringing a little sanity to the question.

Birx called out and destroyed some of the bad information being thrown out there. First, she tackled the claim that “50-60% of the population” were going to get the virus. She said that would only be possible if there was nothing being done to mitigate the virus and if the virus was constantly being recycled through this cycle and the next (the fall) and into 2021. Birx said those claims being put out there were very frightening to people, but if you actually looked at what had happened in Wuhan and Hubei, and other Chinese provinces, that wasn’t the reality.

This is the most important point – it’s important to do what we can to blunt it, but it’s also irresponsible to claim millions are going to die when that’s disconnected from the reality that we’ve already seen in the places where we can examine the data on the ground.

Birx made the point even more clearly on Thursday, specifically calling out the UK study which had predicted 500,000 deaths in the UK and estimated 2.2 million deaths in the United States. This is what many politicians had looked at making judgments around the world. But as Birx said, they just scaled back the estimate from 500,000 to 20,000, a huge difference.

Again, the predictions of such models, Birx said, don’t match the reality of what they’ve seen on the ground in the Italy, South Korea and China. Birx said if you did the divisions according to the models, Italy should have 400,000 deaths. But she said, they’re not even close to that. Indeed, they are at 8,215 deaths and they appear to have started flattening there curve, with five successive days down below their peak on March 21.

Dr. Birx also corrected another concern, saying there were enough ICU beds and ventilators available. She said that while the cases may be concentrated now in heavily populated urban areas, there were other areas where it was not, and they can adjust to get equipment to where it needs to be.

But she made it very clear there is no way that 60% of Americans were all getting it within the next eight to twelve weeks.

Birx also pointed out the difference between the states, that while the virus right now tended to be concentrated in more heavily urban cities and states, that 19 out of 50 states tended to have a low incidence of cases.

It’s this stuff that media is now cutting away from because they don’t want to cover President Donald Trump anymore because the briefings were upping his approval ratings. But things like this are important for people to know and media should be covering it to inform Americans, you know, that thing that is supposed to be their job.