'I still think about it every day': Former White House advisor Deborah Birx says she 'didn't know how to handle' Trump's comments about injecting disinfectants

  • Deborah Birx said she still thinks about Trump’s comments to inject disinfectants into the body.
  • “Frankly, I didn’t know how to handle that episode,” the former White House COVID-19 advisor said.
  • Trump made the suggestion last April as the virus began to spread across the country.
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Former White House coronavirus response coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx spoke in a recent interview about former President Donald Trump’s suggestion last April that injecting disinfectants into the body might stave off COVID-19.

“Frankly, I didn’t know how to handle that episode,” Birx told ABC News. “I still think about it every day.”

Trump made the bizarre comments during a White House coronavirus briefing on April 23 as the virus started to spread across the country. He speculated that scientists could potentially inject light, heat, or disinfectants into the human body to treat the disease.

“Supposing we hit the body with a tremendous, whether its ultraviolet or just very powerful light,” Trump said at the time. “And I think you said, that hasn’t been checked but you’re gonna test it.”

“Is there a way you can do something like that by injection inside, or almost a cleaning?” Trump said. “It sounds interesting to me, so we’ll see.”

Birx appeared perplexed at Trump’s comments and footage of her reaction quickly flooded social media. 

“You can see how extraordinarily uncomfortable I was,” Birx said Monday in her ABC interview.

Democrats and public health experts criticized Birx while she served on the White House coronavirus task force for not being more outspoken against Trump when he spread misleading information about the virus. Last month, she revealed that the criticism made her consider quitting. 

Birx on Monday explained that her nearly-three decades of public service in the military had taught her to remain composed in such situations.

“I guess some people thought I should run up on stage and interrupt this dialogue,” Birx said. “But I was just not trained, in my years of training, to react that way.”

Birx added that she would regularly speak with fellow White House coronavirus task force member and infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci about how to “correct the record” while navigating Trump’s messaging on the coronavirus pandemic. 

Birx played a key role on the coronavirus task force but was sidelined over the summer when Trump brought on a new member, Scott Atlas, who had no experience working with epidemiology or infectious diseases. Trump, who often downplayed the severity of the outbreak, also became upset with Birx in August after she acknowledged the virus was worsening. In December, Birx announced plans to retire.  

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