Dr. Anthony Fauci enjoys the highest public profile among President Donald Trump's coronavirus advisers, but Dr. Deborah Birx may wield more influence inside the White House.
Administration officials told Axios they're amazed by Birx's political skills, saying she has an uncanny ability to get what she wants while telling people what they want to hear.
"The media is clearly enamored with Fauci, but Dr. Birx is significantly more influential in the West Wing," said one senior White House official. "It's influence not just because she's an operator — she's also a workhorse. She's the person building the models and poring over the data every night to brief POTUS and the task force."
Officials credited Birx with convincing the president in late March to ignore his instincts and extend social distancing guidelines for another 30 days, although Trump soon undermined his own advice by encouraging protesters to "liberate" themselves from their governors' orders.
The president's allies and supporters have turned on Fauci, but administration officials say the two get along just fine.
"They seem to have a great relationship, they joke around," said one senior administration official.