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White House coronavirus official Birx under attack for no active doctors license, doesn't need one

Birx has a medical degree, is 'extremely knowledgeable'

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Dr. Deborah Birx at a White House briefing
Dr. Deborah Birx at a White House briefing
(Drew Angerer / Getty Images)
Updated: April 6, 2020 - 11:49am

Dr. Deborah Birx, the White House Coronavirus Task Force response coordinator, is under fire from some conservatives for purportedly no longer being licensed to practice medicine in Pennsylvania, where her license expired in 2014. 

However, a medical license or a medical degree is not required to be an expert immunologist or epidemiologist, critics fail to point out.

“There’s certainly individuals that have PhDs who are immunologists and people working in labs with less than a PhD,” Dr. Tom Price, a medical doctor and President Trump’s former Health and Human Services secretary, told Just the News.

“In terms of working as an immunologist in the world of public health service or the National Institutes of Health or the [Centers For Disease Control] CDC or the like, there are many, many immunologists and epidemiologists who don’t hold either an M.D. or a D.O. [doctor of osteopathy] degree, and they are incredibly pivotal to the whole healthcare team.”

Birx is listed in Pennsylvania records as residing in Maryland, and is reportedly not licensed in that state either. 

She graduated from Pennsylvania State College of Medicine, in Hershey, in 1980 and earned a state medical license in 1987. According to Birx’s official State Department biography, starting in 1980, she trained in internal medicine and basic and clinical immunology at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center and the National Institutes of Health.

Her biography also states that Birx is board certified in internal medicine, allergy and immunology, and diagnostic and clinical laboratory immunology.

“Dr. Birx has practiced and has given remarkable service to the country,” Price also said. “She is an extremely knowledgeable and dynamic individual. She has dedicated her life to public health and public service.”

Price said  House rules prohibit sitting members from continuing to practice medicine, something that affected him during his stint as a Georgia congressman. 

Senators don’t face that same restriction, with Price noting that the late Dr. Tom Coburn, a former Oklahoma senator, who recently passed away, continued his obstetrics-gynecology practice while in office, and that ophthalmologist Dr. Rand Paul, a senator from Kentucky (and the first sitting senator to test positive for coronavirus), continues his practice while in office.