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Former Trump medical advisor is slammed for comparing LONG COVID to HIV

By Caitlin Tilley, Health Reporter For Dailymail.Com

16:30 12 Jan 2024, updated 16:39 12 Jan 2024

  • Dr Deborah Birx made the comparison on News Nation this week
  • Experts said her comparison is ‘scientifically wrong and prone to cause panic’
  • READ MORE: New Covid variant may be more deadly than earlier versions

A former Trump Administration medical advisor has claimed that long Covid is similar to HIV.

Dr Deborah Birx, who served as White House Coordinator from 2020-2021, claimed that, like HIV, Covid ‘quietly destroyed’ some people’s immune systems even if they were asymptomatic, leaving them prone to health problems months and years later.

But the comments drew criticism from academics online, who accused her of downplaying the severity of HIV and overstating the damage of long Covid, which is widely thought to have been over-exaggerated.

In an interview with News Nation Wednesday, Dr Birx said ‘the reason the comparison to HIV is important,’ is because both are asymptomatic, adding: ‘There’s a lot of destruction that mild and moderate Covid can do that is unseen, just like HIV was destroying our immune system.

‘And if you’re diagnosed today, you can live a very normal lifespan, and people not only survive but thrive. We need to get to the point where people with long Covid… can not only survive but thrive.’

Dr Deborah Birx (pictured right), who served as the White House Coordinator under President Trump from 2020-2021, told News Nation: ‘The reason the comparison to HIV is important is because HIV was also asymptomatic’

Dr Jay Bhattacharya, a medical professor at Stanford, called her comparison ‘bad science’ and slammed her as ‘irresponsible.’ 

He wrote on Twitter: ‘This is bad science communication that risks panicking the population over bad science. 

‘Covid is not HIV and the scientific evidence does not support that conclusion. It is very wrong to say that long Covid is similar to [the long-term consequences of] HIV.’

‘It’s irresponsible. Scientifically wrong and prone to cause panic in the mouth of the former White House Covid advisor,’ Dr Bhattacharya added. 

Unless a person is treated very soon after infection, inactive HIV can hide inside cells and can multiply once treatment stops.

HIV is grouped to the genus Lentivirus, whereas Covid belongs to the betacoronavirus genus.

Woman with long Covid, 55, applies to be EUTHANIZED in Canada as condition leaves her bed-ridden and bankrupt 

A Canadian woman has applied to be euthanized after long Covid left her jobless and in constant pain – amid fears assisted dying has become too easy in Canada. 

If HIV is not treated, it can lead to AIDS, and without medication, people typically survive about three years.

An estimated 36.3 million people have died from AIDS-related illnesses since the start of the epidemic in 1981. 

Roughly 1.2 million Americans have HIV, and while there is currently no cure, drugs reduce the amount of virus in the body by stopping it from replicating, meaning it cannot be transmitted to others and will not cause harm in the body.

Symptoms include fever and muscle pains, headache, sore throat, night sweats and diarrhea, but some can go a decade or more without symptoms.

Long Covid is defined as the continuation or development of new symptoms three months after initial Covid infection, with symptoms lasting at least two months with no other explanations.

Symptoms include chronic pain, brain fog, shortness of breath, chest pain and intense fatigue.

It is thought that long Covid is caused by persisting pieces of the Covid virus in the body which cause problems for years after infection.

Researchers at UCSF and Gladstone Institutes in San Francisco recently found new evidence to support this theory.

Long Covid is thought to affect between nine and 20 million Americans, but it is notoriously difficult to diagnose and, increasingly, scientists believe the estimates are too big.

Dr Birx told News Nation: ‘We’re learning now about mitochondria and viral impact and brain fog, and the changes in our neurons and the cells that nourish the neurons that really allow us to think and move, and we’re learning that because of what long Covid has done.’

She said: ‘The reason the comparison to HIV is important is because HIV was also asymptomatic. You couldn’t see the virus through symptoms because people were infected for seven, eight, or nine years before they developed symptoms.

‘But HIV quietly destroyed our immune system… We’re learning now about mitochondria and viral impact and brain fog, and the changes in our neurons and the cells that nourish the neurons that really allow us to think and move, and we’re learning that because of what long Covid has done.’

Researchers at UCSF studied 43 people who had Covid in 2020 and examined the differences between the 16 who fully recovered and the remaining 27 who have been left with persistent symptoms.

They looked at the role of the T-cells, which coordinate the body’s immune response.

Nadia Roan, professor of urology at UCSF and the study’s senior author, said: ‘A striking finding we made was that while this T-cell coordination was observed in those that successfully recovered from long Covid, as expected of normal, healthy individuals, it was lost in those with long Covid.’

The researchers analyzed blood samples and found that instead of the antibodies working properly with the T-cells, there was a disconnect.

‘The antibody response was discoordinated from the T-cell response,’ Roan said.

In participants with ongoing symptoms, the immune cells showed signs of chronic inflammation and an unusually high movement of T-cells into tissues.

It is thought to be due to bits of Covid which never left the body. 

Killer T-cells, which are in charge of clearing out cells infected with Covid, were consistently stopped by the virus and became worn out.

Dr Roan said the phenomenon of T-cell exhaustion is well-known in studies of HIV, too.

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