Facebook posts – No, Deborah Birx hasn’t changed her “tune” on COVID vaccines

Dr. Deborah Birx, COVID-19 response coordinator under former President Donald Trump, didn’t mince words when she recently spoke about COVID-19 vaccine messaging.

Birx appeared on Fox News on July 22, the day after President Joe Biden tested positive for COVID-19. Host Neil Cavuto asked Birx what she would say to unvaccinated people who question the need to get vaccinated when vaccinated people like Biden catch the coronavirus.

Birx responded by touting the tests and Paxlovid, the antiviral used to treat COVID-19 infections. She has always recommended people get vaccinated – but she also made a statement about vaccine communication that got a lot of people talking.

“I think we’ve overhyped vaccines, and it’s made people fear that it won’t protect against serious illness and hospitalization. It will,” Birx said.

Now some social media users are taking that comment out of context, with a viral post on Facebook suggesting it shows she has ‘changed her story’ on vaccine effectiveness.

“WARNING US DNA Threatened!; Dr. Brix changes tone on vax; FBI Huawei interfering with US military,” read the caption of a July 25 Facebook post, misspelling Birx’s name. The post shared a Front Page video with Scott Goulet, a conservative YouTube channel.

“Birx admits vaccines don’t work,” reads the text on the screen as Goulet cuts to a clip of Birx making the statement about “vaccine overuse.”

The post was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat fake news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Learn more about our partnership with Facebook.)

A look at Birx’s full statements on Fox and a review of her past vaccine comments show that she has neither changed her tone nor admitted that vaccines “don’t work.”

What Birx said on Fox

First, Birx told Fox News she thought the vaccine was overkill. But she also said the vaccine “will protect you.” Here are his comments in full:

Cavito: “I wanted to get your opinion – a lot of people are watching the president have (COVID-19). And a lot of people vaxxed and boosted and they get it. The 20% of Americans who haven’t been vaccinated might look at this and say, “Why bother? Why bother?’ What do you tell them?

bix: “If you are on the other side of the South and you are in the middle of this wave, what will save you is Paxlovid. But once we get through this wave, during this lull, you should get vaccinated and boosted, as we believe this will protect you, especially if you are over 70. I knew these vaccines would not protect against infection. I think we’ve overdone the vaccines, and it’s made people worry that it doesn’t protect against serious illness and hospitalization. It will be. But let’s be very clear, 50% of the people who died from the omicron outbreak were older and vaccinated. Even if you are vaccinated and boosted, if you are not vaccinated, right now the key is the test and Paxlovid. It’s effective, it’s an excellent antiviral. And that’s really what’s going to save your life right now if you’re over 70.

What Birx previously said about vaccines

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or CDC, and Biden have received high-profile criticism for exaggerating the extent to which vaccines can thwart infection.

However, Birx has remained largely consistent in saying that COVID-19 vaccines do not provide long-term immunity, and she has repeatedly touted a multi-pronged approach to battling the virus.

We found no evidence of Birx indicating that the vaccine could provide complete protection against infection. In fact, as early as December 2020, she said it couldn’t curb an increase in COVID-19 cases.

“I want to be very frank with the American people: the vaccine is essential, but it will not save us from this current surge,” Birx said during a Dec. 6, 2020, interview with NBC. She went on to say that a multi-pronged approach is needed to prevent the spread of the virus.

Later that month, Birx said in a television interview that much remained unknown about the level of protection provided by vaccines. She distinguished between what was known about the vaccine’s ability to prevent infection and what was known about its ability to prevent disease.

Johns Hopkins University differentiates between infection and disease by writing that most COVID-19 vaccines do not prevent infection, but prevent the infection from spreading through the body and causing serious illness. .

“At the moment, we don’t know how effective these vaccines might be at preventing infection,” Birx said in this Dec. 22, 2020, interview. “So you can get a low-grade infection. And you can spread the virus. We know it protects against disease. And it protects against serious diseases… But what we don’t know is: “Does it protect against infections? And we’ll be able to really figure that out in the next few weeks, maybe even months.

She was more outspoken in 2022. During a May 1 interview with CBS, Birx criticized the misconception that vaccinated people are “somehow invincible.”

“Let’s be clear, not all vulnerable family members have an effective immune response to the vaccine or booster,” Birx said. “We need to make it very clear to the American people that your protection against infection is diminishing.”

In Birx’s book, “Silent Invasion,” published in April, she chronicled the start of the COVID-19 pandemic and the Trump administration’s response. She also recognized the power of “silent transmission by fully vaccinated” infected people.

She pointed out that to assume that “vaccines have now totally solved the problem is a mistake,” according to The New York Times.

Such remarks do not deviate from Birx’s previous posts on the subject. The Facebook post pointed to an earlier comment from Birx praising the effectiveness of the vaccine to suggest she had changed her mind:

“I understand the depth of efficacy of this vaccine,” Birx said on Dec. 16, 2020. “This is one of the most effective vaccines we have in our infectious disease arsenal.”

But the vaccine is effective, even if it does not offer total immunity against the virus. Vaccinated people have varying degrees of immunity. Vaccine antibodies can prevent serious illness, although they do not always prevent reinfection.

Our decision

A Facebook post said Birx is “changing its tone on” COVID-19 vaccines and “admitting they don’t work.”

Birx’s full comments show she said she believes vaccines work and people should get them. PolitiFact found no trace of Birx indicating that the vaccine could provide complete protection against infection. During the vaccine’s initial rollout, Birx said the level of immunity provided by the vaccine was unclear.

In subsequent interviews, she said a multi-pronged approach was needed to prevent the spread of the virus. We rate this claim as false.

Comments are closed.