The former response coordinator for the Trump administration’s coronavirus task force said the White House messed up a chance to prevent up to 40% of America’s COVID-19 deaths.
Dr. Deborah Birx made the comments to investigators with the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis during interviews on Oct. 12 and 13. The subcommittee released portions of the interviews Tuesday.
More than 400,000 people died of COVID-19 before Trump left office on Jan. 20.
Birx told the committee that the former president didn’t do as much as he could have to prevent the deaths and said she made the same comments to the White House.
She also said she told the president specific things that could be done to slow the virus’s spread.
“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, we probably could have decreased fatalities into the 30 percent less to 40 percent less range,” Birx told the committee.
When Birx was in the Trump White House, she was criticized by the 45th president for debunking his outlandish theories such as injecting people with disinfectant to “cure” COVID-19.
During her testimony, she blamed Trump’s reaction on his dealing with a reelection campaign that she said made the White House “somewhat complacent.”
The election year “just took people’s time away from and distracted them away from the pandemic in my personal opinion,” Birx said.
Trump spokeswoman Liz Harrington responded to Birx by blaming President Joe Biden and the news media.
“President Trump led an unprecedented effort to successfully combat the coronavirus, delivering PPE, hospital beds, treatments, and three vaccines in record time. Unfortunately, this approach was not taken up by the current government, and more lives have been lost from covid this year than the entirety of 2020, which the Fake News media places no blame onto Joe Biden,” Harrington said in a statement to The Washington Post.
This article originally appeared on HuffPost and has been updated.