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Leading Public Health Expert and White House Coronavirus Response Coordinator Undermines Her Credibility

Statement of Dr. Michael Carome, Director, Public Citizen’s Health Research Group

Note: At Tuesday night’s White House briefing, Ambassador Deborah Birx, a physician and internationally recognized leading public health expert who was appointed to serve as the White House coronavirus response coordinator, falsely claimed that the U.S. has “one of the lowest [coronavirus] mortality rates in the entire world.”

Although most Americans expect President Donald Trump to lie whenever he opens his mouth and speaks about the coronavirus pandemic, they generally have viewed the public health experts serving on the White House Coronavirus Task Force, like Ambassador Birx and Dr. Anthony Fauci, as respected, credible voices. But Birx has undermined her credibility by falsely claiming that the U.S. has one of the lowest coronavirus mortality rates in the entire world.

To the contrary, the facts demonstrate that the U.S. has one of the highest coronavirus mortality rates in the world.

Data derived from the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control reveal that among 204 countries and territories, the U.S. as of today ranks 13th in the number of COVID-19 deaths per capita and 48th in COVID-19 case-fatality rates.

Similarly, among the 36 economically advanced countries comprising the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, the U.S. ranks 10th in both the number of COVID-19 deaths per capita and COVID-19 case-fatality rates.

False statements from leading national public health experts are particularly dangerous because they will lead people to ignore critically important public health advice, further fueling the spread of the coronavirus.