Deborah Birx, a physician who served as former President Trump’s coronavirus response coordinator, said on Tuesday that the U.S. isn’t doing enough to prevent another pandemic like COVID-19.
“To me, what’s really important as we went through this after SARS, and the World Health Organization’s developed treaties, we spent literally hundreds of millions of dollars on saying we were ready and we would prevent the next pandemic and it happened,” Birx said on “CNN This Morning.”
“So let’s be very clear that what we have done today has failed. And I worry that we haven’t put the new things in place that will keep us and protect us from the next pandemic,” she added.
Birx responded to new reports that the Energy Department has determined with “low confidence” that COVID-19 originated from a lab mishap in China, saying she thinks it’s significant that the department has updated its judgment — but stressed that lack of information from China is hampering learning more about the pandemic’s start.
She specifically knocked Beijing, which has appeared to dismiss the new report, for a lack of transparency on COVID and for not learning from the earlier SARS outbreak.
“Is the United States doing enough to prevent this from happening again?” host Kaitlan Collins asked Birx on Tuesday.
“No,” Birx said.
“And just like we learned after 9/11, we have to have a coalition of like-minded countries that work together and bring the private sector to the table because they are the groups that have multinational employees all across the globe,” the former COVID-19 coordinator said, “And we need a surveillance system that works with the private sector to really understand what’s happening in countries that are not transparent.”
The Energy Department’s reported conclusion matches that of the FBI, but goes against four other agencies and the National Intelligence Council, which have said the virus developed from natural transmission, according to The Wall Street Journal. Other agencies are reportedly undecided.
White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan over the weekend said the intelligence community holds “a variety of views” on COVID-19’s origins and hasn’t come up with a “definitive answer.”