Dr. Deborah Birx, the White House coronavirus response coordinator, said Sunday the important point of how “devastating’ the coronavirus is to different age groups is being lost in the furor over President Donald Trump’s virus treatment ruminations.
In an interview on CNN’s “State of the Union,” Birx, a specialist in HIV/AIDS immunology, vaccine research and global health, said the media focus on Trump’s controversial thoughts on ultraviolet light and disinfectants “bothers me.”
"I think we're missing the bigger pieces of what we need to be doing as an American people, to continue to protect one another,” she said.
“We should be having that dialogue about asymptomatics, we should be having that dialogue about this unique clotting that we're seeing. We're the first country that really had young people to this degree,” she pointed out.
“This is our first experience of this virus in an open society where we really can understand what's happening to every different age group,” she added. “These are the things that we should be talking about and focusing on.
“So I think as a scientist and a public health official and a researcher, sometimes I worry that we don't get the information to the American people that they need when we continue to bring up something that was from Thursday night.”
Birx said Trump made it clear physicians had to “study” what kills the virus.
“I think I've made it clear that this was a musing,” she said, “But I want us to move on to be able to get information to the American people that can help them protect each other and also help them understand how devastating this virus is to different age groups and different symptoms and different comorbidities.”
Birx said though she’s always concerned about the potential for a new surge in cases, but that “we have to diagnose the virus before it is evident in communities.”
She said in the response team’s guidelines for reopening the country, there’s a setup for “what we call sentinel surveillance or monitoring proactively in long term care facilities, in inner city clinics that have multigenerational households, in prisons, among Native Americans, to really ensure we find the virus before people even get symptoms.”
“That's a key part of this also, that sometimes I think is missing when we're talking about diagnosis and contact tracing," she said. "We also have to diagnose the virus before it is evident in communities."
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