Dr. Deborah Birx, who rose to prominence as coronavirus coordinator in Trump's White House, recently sat with CNN to talk about government shortfalls when it came to America's early response to the COVID pandemic. In a documentary set to air Sunday, Birx tells Sanjay Gupta we "had an excuse" for the first 100,000 deaths that followed the first surge but says "the rest of them, in my mind, could have been mitigated or decreased substantially.” Birx's statement comes as the US death toll nears 550,000.
Birx was one of six doctors interviewed for the documentary, which comes as the country is seeing a spike in vaccinations but not the expected drop in infections, per USA Today. On the rise, too, are cases of infections by new coronavirus variants. Birx, who recently announced she's taken a new job with the George W. Bush Institute, told ABC News this month that asymptomatic spread of the virus continues to be a major concern as testing rates plummet nationwide. (Read more Deborah Birx stories.)