Former President Donald Trump’s adviser believes Covid-19 could have leaked from a Wuhan lab where scientists were working on vaccines for similar viruses.
Infectious diseases expert and former presidential Covid adviser Dr Deborah Birx told The Mail on Sunday that coronavirus ‘came out of the box ready to infect’ when it emerged in the Chinese city of Wuhan in December 2020.
The adviser said most viruses take months or years to become highly infectious to humans. But, Dr Birx said, Covid ‘was already more infectious than flu when it first arrived’.
She said that meant Covid was either an ‘abnormal thing of nature’ or that Chinese scientists were ‘working on coronavirus vaccines’ and became infected.
‘It happens, labs aren’t perfect, people aren’t perfect, we make mistakes and there can be contamination,’ she said.
Former US President Donald Trump’s Covid adviser Dr Deborah Birx (pictured) believes the virus could have leaked from a lab where it was being worked on by scientists
She accused China of initially covering up how infectious Covid was.
Birx said Covid’s infectiousness was consistent with a virus which had been experimented on in a lab.
‘In laboratories you grow the virus in human cells, allowing it to adapt more. Each time it passes through human cells it becomes more adapted,’ she said.
Because people can catch Covid asymptomatically – meaning they don’t show symptoms – Dr Birx argues a Wuhan scientist could have easily walked out of the lab with it.
‘Someone working in the lab with one of the strains could’ve caught it and not known they had it,’ she said.
Dr Birx also added that lives could’ve been saved if China had admitted the virus spread asymptomatically, when it was first discovered.
‘China was implying that they were containing it, but asymptomatic spread cannot be contained without testing,’ she said.
The then-President Donald Trump listens as Dr. Deborah Birx, White House coronavirus response coordinator speaks about Covid in 2020
Birx is pictured above during a viral reaction to Trump’s 2020 comments that injecting disinfectant might cure coronavirus
‘I think the world lost several months of preparation because we were thinking there wasn’t that level of human-to-human spread when there clearly was.’
Dr Birx’s comments came a month after the MoS revealed that the head of the World Health Organization privately believes the Covid pandemic started following a Chinese lab leak.
China has repeatedly denied claims of a lab leak and branded the idea as a ‘conspiracy theory’.
But alternative theories – that Covid came from human contact with bats or from a meat market in Wuhan – are not backed by evidence.
The lab leak theory was touted early on but was shut down by liberal media who ridiculed the idea and even branded it racist.
It took many mainstream left leaning news sites more than a year from the spread of the virus, to concede that the lab theory held weight.
Some outlets, such as the Huffington Post, even branded any suggestion the virus could have stemmed from a lab as a ‘toxic conspiracy theory.’
When Donald Trump, on May 1, 2020, said he had ‘a high degree of confidence’ that the virus escaped from a lab, the New York Times, CNN, and NPR were quick to mock his comments.
CNN was almost gleeful in its mockery of the idea that the virus could have come from a laboratory.
The Washington Post, New York Times, and NPR were equally dismissive of suggestions that the virus could have come from a laboratory.
Few were able to suggest that COVID-19 could have stemmed from a research facility without backlash but that didn’t stop some media, including the Daily Mail, from questioning the narrative.
Fox News’ Tucker Carlson was also clear in demanding an investigation into whether it could have escaped from the lab.
Finally, in early 2021, came the first signs that opinion was beginning to change.
In January, a World Health Organization (WHO) report only served to raise more questions after Beijing strictly controlled an on-site visit and who the researchers compiling the report spoke to. The WHO team was only allowed three hours inside the Wuhan lab and was unable to examine any of the Wuhan institute’s safety logs or records of testing on its staff.
By May 11, 2021, the leading public health expert in the United States, Dr Anthony Fauci, had accepted that the idea of the virus escaping from a lab had been too quickly dismissed.
Asked whether the virus originated naturally, Fauci replied that he wants to look closer into the matter.
‘I am not convinced about that,’ he said. ‘I think we should continue to investigate what went on in China until we continue to find out to the best of our ability what happened.
When the pandemic begun, Birx together with Dr Fauci were two of President Trump’s most visible advisers, regularly speaking alongside one another.
As the White House Coronavirus response coordinator, Birx was present at the April 2020 press conference during which the president suggested people should inject themselves with disinfectant as a possible COVID treatment.
Close-up video of Birx’s reaction went viral online, with many social media users setting her reactions to music from comedy shows.
Birx smirked briefly and looked down as dejection set in.
The health expert drew criticism for not speaking up more publicly to contradict Trump’s claims that drinking bleach could kill the virus.
‘Frankly, I didn´t know how to handle that episode,’ Birx told ABC television in March 2021. ‘I still think about it every day.’
But by the summer of 2020, things began to unravel having fallen out of favor with Trump, who initially considered her ‘classy’ and ‘a lady,’ according to White House sources.
In August that year, the president replaced her with Dr Scott Atlas, a radiologist who had no epidemiological experience, but whom Trump had seen speak on Fox News.
Trump later called Birx ‘pathetic’ when she warned Americans that the pandemic is ‘extraordinarily widespread’ in the US.
Birx then took her message to states and localities, reportedly trying to counteract Atlas’ public messaging on masks and social distancing.
Earlier this year, Birx published a tell-all memoir of her time as the Covid-19 task force coordinator; ‘Silent Invasion: The Untold Story of The Trump Administration, COVID-19, and Preventing the Next Pandemic Before It´s Too Late.’
‘I wrote `Silent Invasion’ to document the full extent of what I witnessed as I tried to save lives during this devastating time,’ Birx said in a statement. ‘In the book, I expose the true cost of mistakes that were made at all levels of the federal government, but I also clarify the things that went right yet remained largely unseen – the insights and innovations that saved American lives in this pandemic and are essential to preparing for the next.’
Birx came to the White House coronavirus task force with a sterling reputation.
A public servant since the Reagan administration, Birx has served as a US Army physician and a globally recognized AIDS researcher.
She was pulled away from her ambassadorial post as the US global AIDS coordinator to help the task force in late February 2020.
She stayed in Trump’s good graces far longer than Dr Anthony Fauci of the National Institutes of Health, who frequently contradicted Trump.
But Birx also drew criticism when she traveled to Delaware over Thanksgiving in 2020 even as the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommended against holiday travel.
She was accompanied by her husband Paige Reffe, one of her daughters, son-in-law and two grandchildren for the Black Friday trip, though she had warned Americans to ‘be vigilant’ and limit celebrations to ‘your immediate household.’
Birx insisted the roughly 50 hour trip to Fenwick Island was to deal with the winterization of the property before a potential sale, and added that she did not celebrate Thanksgiving there.
Birx in October told congressional investigators that the 2020 election provided a ‘distraction’ to the Trump team from the Covid response, which she estimated cost the U.S. some 130,000 lives.
The election year ‘just took people’s time away from and distracted them away from the pandemic in my personal opinion,’ Birx said.
‘I believe if we had fully implemented the mask mandates, the reduction in indoor dining, the getting friends and family to understand the risk of gathering in private homes, and we had increased testing, that we probably could have decreased fatalities into the 30-percent-less to 40-percent-less range,’ she concluded.
Birx has also testified about her battles with her successor, Dr. Atlas.
‘I could see the consequences of what was occurring out across the United States and the severity of the virus among the most ill, and my concern about those who were potentially less ill,’ Birx told the congressional panel. ‘And inside the White House is a person that is basically wanting community spread to increase.’
Last week the UK surpassed 200,000 Covid deaths but worldwide the disease has killed more than six million.