The Untold Truth Of Dr. Deborah Birx

When President Trump suggested people inject disinfectants like bleach to combat the coronavirus, countless stepped up to counteract this false claim that it could treat the disease. Everyone from Hillary Clinton to Joe Biden, to other politicians and influencers across the country, took to Twitter as part of an outpouring of resistance to the statement that Trump now claims he made sarcastically. From all the reactions, though, one particularly resonated with many for its unfiltered authenticity. 

Dr. Deborah Birx — who is on the administration's coronavirus task force and often appears at White House press briefings on the virus — reacted to the claim while sitting on the sidelines of the briefing and went viral on Twitter. The clip shows her processing his statement in real time as she blinks repeatedly, frowns, and looks at the ground seemingly perplexed or disappointed. As author and co-founder of The Democratic Coalition, Scott Dworkin, put it, "Birx is all of us right now." Meanwhile, others criticized Birx for seemingly enabling the false claims by not correcting Trump on the spot. 

Later, Birx defended the president's misinformation-turned-sarcastic-remark on Fox News, saying he was talking through information out-loud. "I think he just saw the information at the time immediately... and he was still digesting that information," she said. 

Deborah Birx's career includes several impressive titles

While Deborah Birx is being criticized for some of her actions as of late, there's no denying that she's been a powerhouse and icon for women watching across the nation throughout her career. She is one of the only two women on the task force and reports directly to Vice President Mike Pence, according to The New York Times. Her current position on the team came after a lifetime of dedication to science and hard work, all while juggling the responsibilities of having a family. 

A former army colonel, Birx is now the U.S. Global Aids Coordinator and U.S. Special Representative for Global Health Diplomacy after being nominated by former president Barack Obama. She has held many high positions, including the seat for Director of the division for Global HIV/AIDS at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for almost a decade between 2005 and 2014. She has also led through some historic times, with a White House memo noting that she "developed and patented vaccines, including leading one of the most influential HIV vaccine trials in history."

Dr. Deborah Birx has earned fans along the way — despite recent critics

Not only is she a scientist filled with smarts, but Deborah Birx has also skillfully walked the tightrope between family life and a successful career that many women have faced, especially in previous decades. 

A March 2020 Washington Post profile of the talented scientist notes that she graduated high school by the age of 16, college by the age of 20, and medical school by the age of 23. She had her daughter shortly after, meaning Birx pushed forward in her career at a time when women were still somewhat expected to dedicate their lives to the home and their families, instead of advancing in their professions. "Birx's older daughter would sit on the floor of the lab, playing with the colored caps of sample tubes, while Birx cultured HIV," the profile described. 

She's built a fanbase of her own, with women and children taking note and emulating her signature look. "My 5 year old asked if she could wear a scarf like Dr. Birx," one fan posted on Twitter, alongside a photo of her daughter styling a Birx-like neck scarf. 

Along with all the other leaders — including Dr. Anthony Fauci and New York Governor Andrew Cuomo — who have emerged during this global crisis, Birx is joining the ranks of being on the frontlines of fighting the pandemic. 

Deborah Birx's family suffered a tragedy

During a coronavirus press briefing on March 25, 2020, Deborah Birx — whose middle name is Leah — shared a personal anecdote to illustrate why social distancing is so important. "My grandmother for 88 years lived with the fact that she was the one, at age 11, who brought home flu to her mother, named Leah, for which I am named," she shared (via CNN). "Her mother had just delivered and her mother succumbed to the great 1918 flu." The Pennsylvania native continued, "She never forgot that she was the child that was in school that innocently brought that flu home. This is why we keep saying to every American: You have a role to protect each and every person that you interact with."

Driving her personal connection to this issue home, Birx added, "I can tell you my grandmother lived with that for 88 years. This is not a theoretic. This is a reality. You can see the number of deaths that are occurring. We all have a role in preventing them that moved all of us."

This instance of vulnerability seemingly proves Birx isn't afraid to open up about her personal life when it could potentially help others.