Trump White House made ‘deliberate efforts’ to undermine Covid response, report says

The Trump administration engaged in “deliberate efforts” to undermine the U.S. response to the coronavirus pandemic for political purposes, a congressional report released Friday concludes.

The report, prepared by the House select subcommittee investigating the nation’s Covid response, says the White House repeatedly overruled public health and testing guidance by the nation’s top infectious disease experts and silenced officials in order to promote then-President Donald Trump’s political agenda.

In August of last year, for example, Trump hosted a White House meeting with people who promoted a herd immunity strategy pushed by White House special adviser Dr. Scott Atlas. The subcommittee obtained an email sent ahead of that meeting in which Dr. Deborah Birx, the White House Covid response coordinator, told the vice president’s chief of staff, Marc Short, that it was “a fringe group without grounding in epidemics, public health or on the ground common-sense experience.” Birx also said in the email that she could “go out of town or whatever gives the WH cover” on the day of the meeting.

A few months later in October, National Institutes of Health Director Dr. Francis Collins called for “a quick and devastating published take down” of the herd immunity strategy, according to emails obtained and released by the subcommittee.

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