COVID-19 Data Doesn’t Match Most Extreme Models: Dr. Birx

By Isabel van Brugen
Isabel van Brugen
Isabel van Brugen
Isabel van Brugen is an award-winning journalist. She holds a master's in newspaper journalism from City, University of London.
March 27, 2020Updated: March 27, 2020

COVID-19 models that have predicted the death of millions due to the pandemic “don’t match the reality on the ground” in the United States, the White House coronavirus response director said on Thursday.

“Models are models,” Dr. Deborah Birx said at a Coronavirus Task Force briefing. “When people start talking about 20 percent of a population getting infected, it’s very scary, but we don’t have data that matches that based on our experience.

She added that given the current data, “there’s no model right now, no reality on the ground, where we can see that 60-70 percent of Americans are going to get infected in the next 10-12 weeks.”

Birx made reference to modelling predictions projecting up to 2.2 million deaths from the CCP virus, also known as the novel coronavirus, in the United States, and half a million deaths in the United Kingdom.

The Epoch Times refers to the novel coronavirus, which causes the disease COVID-19, as the CCP virus because the Chinese Communist Party’s coverup and mismanagement allowed the virus to spread throughout China and create a global pandemic.

“The predictions of the model don’t match the reality on the ground in China, South Korea, or Italy. We are five times the size of Italy,” she added. “If we were Italy and did all those divisions, Italy should have close to 400,000 deaths. They are not close to achieving that.”

Italy’s death toll on Thursday stood at a little over 8,200.

Epoch Times Photo
A view shows people at work, as volunteer artisans, Civil Protection workers and members of the Bergamo section of the National Alpine Association (ANA) work together to build a strategic field hospital for COVID-19 patients in the premises of the Bergamo fair on March 27, 2020, during the country’s lockdown aimed at curbing the spread of COVID-19, caused by the CCP virus. (Miguel Medina/AFP via Getty Images)

Birx stressed that the estimates are based on models which do not consider the ongoing efforts to slow the spread of the virus worldwide.

“The numbers that have been put out there are actually very frightening to people,” she said during the briefing.

“If you do these projections, when you got to those projections that said, like in Germany and others, that implied that 60 percent or 50 percent of the population would get infected, I want to be very clear: The only way that happens is if this virus remains continuously moving through populations in this cycle, in the fall cycle, and another cycle,” Birx said.

The author of the model has since said that deaths in the UK are unlikely to exceed 20,000, Birx said, as stringent measures to restrict movement had been implemented with a three-week total lockdown.

“Half a million to 20,000. We are looking at that in great detail to understand that adjustment,” Birx added. 

Epoch Times Photo
Staff members spray disinfectant at a subway station in Wuhan, in China’s central Hubei Province on March 27, 2020. (STR/AFP via Getty Images)

Trump Doubts China’s CCP Virus Data

President Donald Trump meanwhile expressed his doubts about the number of COVID-19 cases being reported by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) in its official data that is quoted around the world.

“You don’t know what the numbers are in China,” the president said when asked by a reporter whether he was surprised that the United States has surpassed China in the number of cases of the CCP virus.

A tracking map published by Johns Hopkins University currently shows that the United States has 85,991 confirmed cases, compared to China which has an official confirmed case total of 81,782. CCP virus deaths in the U.S. rose to 1,296 by Thursday.

Trump said that he thinks the increase in cases being reported in the United States is “a tribute to the testing—we’re testing tremendous numbers of people … We’re doing tremendous testing.”

“I’m sure you’re not able to tell what China is testing or not testing,” Trump told the reporter. “I think that’s a little hard.”

According to The Epoch Times’ investigations, China’s actual number of cases and deaths from the CCP virus are likely to be more than 10 times higher than what is being reported.

COVID-19 Could Kill 81,000: Study

According to a recent analysis conducted by the University of Washington’s School of Medicine, it is estimated that in the next four months, COVID-19 could kill more than 81,000 people in the United States and the outbreak may not subside until June.

This death toll could vary from 38,000 to 162,000, the modelling suggested. Lead author of the study, Dr. Christopher Murray, who is the director of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington, looked at data from governments, hospitals, and other sources to inform his analysis.

Mimi Nguyen Ly contributed to this report.

Isabel van Brugen is an award-winning journalist. She holds a master's in newspaper journalism from City, University of London.