Dr. Deborah Birx Questions Accuracy of IHME Coronavirus Model Predicting More Deaths

White House Coronavirus Task Force Coordinator, Dr. Deborah Birx, answers a question during the daily briefing on the novel coronavirus, COVID-19, at the White House on March 18, 2020, in Washington, DC. (Photo by Brendan Smialowski / AFP) (Photo by BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP via Getty Images)
BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP via Getty Images

Coronavirus Task Force coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx on Tuesday questioned the accuracy of the updated Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington (IHME) model for coronavirus deaths.

“I think that particular model is very sensitive to actual any changes in the mortality and very much utilizes that data,” she said during an interview with reporters on Tuesday.

The release of the updated model projects an increase in coronavirus deaths to 74,073 in the United States by August 4, fueling a narrative that the virus was not going away as quickly as the president has predicted.

Birx said she looked forward to an IHME model adjustment in another week, pointing out that their prediction for deaths expected on Tuesday was already higher than the actual data.

She also said that the model likely failed to note the continued mitigation parameters in both phases of the reopening plan.

“I’m not sure all of the mitigation parameters were taken into account,” she said.

President Donald Trump also expressed skepticism about the IHME model on Tuesday, noting their failure to include metrics for social distancing.

“Look, models have been very inaccurate, I’ve seen models that are very inaccurate,” Trump said at the White House when asked about the updated predictions.

Birx also said that the IHME model likely had not taken into account the task force guidelines for asking seniors and more vulnerable communities to continue sheltering in place in both phases of the reopening America plan.

“That’s a consistent element that needs to be present,” she said. “That was put there very intentionally to make sure that in opening up America, that very clear statement, that we were protecting the vulnerable we felt that was absolutely essential.”

She urged states not to skip different phases of the reopening plan, and continue social mitigation protocols to help stop the spread of the virus.

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