Dr. Deborah Birx: “I haven’t had that opportunity” to speak with Biden transition team

As the United States battles a vigorous second wave of COVID-19, Dr. Deborah Birx, coordinator of the White House Coronavirus Task Force, says she has not communicated with the transition team of President-Elect Joe Biden.

“I haven’t had that opportunity yet,” Dr. Birx told FOX 11’s Elex Michaelson during an appearance on The Issue Is.

When pressed by Michaelson as to why, as coordinator or the White House response, she has not been in touch with the transition team on the biggest issue of the day, Dr. Birx responded that “there are very strict rules around transition and how they occur,” and that “we have to wait for that moment in time when the transition can occur.”

Dr. Birx’s admission comes as the nation experiences both positive and negative milestones in the fight against COVID-19.

On Friday, Pfizer applied for emergency authorization for their coronavirus vaccine, which has been found to be 95% effective. Should the authorization be granted, the vaccine could start being deployed to front-line workers and the most vulnerable as soon as December.

That positive news on the vaccine front comes as, this week, the nation surpassed 250,000 deaths, and new cases surge, a record 185,000 being logged on Thursday alone.

While communication between Dr. Birx and the Biden team has yet to take place in the course of these developments, Dr. Birx did express a willingness to work with the President-Elect in the future.

“I’m someone who’s been in government for 40 years, through six or seven different Presidents and their transition,” she said. “Supporting who’s ever President at the time with your best judgment, your best determination, your best work, that’s how I’ve lived my life.”

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“I stand available to, if they think I am useful in the transition, or they think I’m useful in the future,” Dr. Birx continued. “That’s been my work ethic from the beginning in service, and in service of this country, and it’s been a wonderful life of work.”

Despite the fact that President-Elect Biden has indicated a desire to retain Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Dr. Birx’s willingness to stay on may not preview her continued service.

Earlier this week, Céline Gounder, a member of Biden’s COVID-19 Advisory Board, told Politico that Dr. Birx’s future involvement is “complicated,” saying “it’s almost like she herself has been politicized.”

Gounder, a clinical assistant professor of medicine and infectious diseases at NYU, is one of 13 medical experts appointed to Biden’s transition COVID-19 Advisory Board. 

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The task force is co-chaired by Obama-era Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, former FDA commissioner David Kessler, and Marcella Nunez-Smith, the associate dean for health equity research at the Yale School of Medicine.

In a wide-ranging interview on The Issue Is, Dr. Birx also discussed vaccine progress, including two other potential candidates from Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca, the continued use of masks and physical distancing during the holidays, and whether or not school closures and curfews are in fact the best way to curb community spread.

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