Apr 26, 2022 - Health

Birx calls Trump disinfectant remarks a "tragedy on many levels"

Deborah Birx, the-then coronavirus response coordinator, speaks during a news conference in the the White House in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Friday, May 22, 2020.

Deborah Birx, the former White House coronavirus response coordinator in the Trump administration. Photo: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Deborah Birx, the former White House coronavirus response coordinator, told ABC News Monday that then-President Trump's suggestion at a 2020 news conference that disinfectants might be used to treat COVID-19 was a "tragedy on many levels."

Driving the news: Trump insisted later he was speaking "sarcastically" when he said, "I see the disinfectant that knocks it out in a minute ... is there a way we can do something like that by injection inside, or almost a cleaning?"

  • "Because you see it gets inside the lungs and it does a tremendous number on the lungs, so it would be interesting to check that," he added.

Why it matters: Birx is a respected physician and diplomat, but she faced criticism for not pushing back on Trump when he contradicted public health experts.

  • But Birx, whose book on the Trump administration and the pandemic is released Tuesday, told ABC News' Jennifer Ashton that she "immediately went to his most senior staff" and told them his comments must "be reversed immediately."
  • "And by the next morning, the president was saying that was a joke," Birx said. "But I think he knew by that evening, clearly, that this was dangerous."

Worth noting: Birx said on ABC's "Good Morning America" that she regretted not saying more at the time Trump made the comments.

  • "I just wanted it to be 'The Twilight Zone' and all go away," Birx said of the moment Trump made the disinfectant comments in front of the cameras as she sat in her seat at the news conference.
  • "I could just see everything unraveling in that moment," she added.

Go deeper: Trump calls Birx "a proven liar" and says Fauci "flip-flops" after CNN interview

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