Birx: Yes, I Should Have Rebutted the Disinfectant Idea

'I was paralyzed in that moment,' she recalls of Trump press conference
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 26, 2022 11:13 AM CDT
Birx: I Regret Not Rebutting Trump on Disinfectant Idea
In this April 22, 2020, photo, then-President Trump listens as Dr. Deborah Birx, White House coronavirus response coordinator, speaks about the coronavirus.   (AP Photo/Alex Brandon, File)

(Newser) – It was one of the more memorable moments from then-President Trump's pandemic briefings. In April 2020, he talked about the idea of people injecting disinfectant to fight the coronavirus. The following day, Trump backtracked and said he wasn't serious. Now, one of his top COVID advisers from the time, Dr. Deborah Birx, tells ABC News she regrets not speaking up immediately when Trump broached the subject at a news conference. "Did it ever cross your mind to stand up and stand next to the president, and say, 'Let me clarify that'?" asked ABC's Jennifer Ashton. "That would have been the logical and important thing to do," said Birx. But "I was paralyzed in that moment because it was so unexpected. ... I just wanted it to be The Twilight Zone and all go away."

Birx is making the media rounds to plug her memoir Silent Invasion: The Untold Story of the Trump Administration, COVID-19, and Preventing the Next Pandemic Before It's Too Late. "We had spent so much time getting everyone to take the virus seriously, and we had these whole series of actions that were critical to saving American lives in that moment," Birx said. "And I could see everything would be unraveled after that moment." Trump's comments were the subject of mocking memes afterward—see Fast Company—and comic Sarah Cooper in particular made headlines with her take. Also in the interview, Birx said she and other doctors advising Trump, including Anthony Fauci, had a pact to resign en masse if one of them got fired. (Read more Deborah Birx stories.)

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