The CDC and FDA got a black eye in 2020. Here’s how they can earn back the public’s trust.
This year, some of the most trusted science institutions in the world participated in a high-profile and disastrous national mismanagement of the coronavirus pandemic. In February, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention insisted on creating its own tests, rather than using ones developed by the World Health Organization. The CDC-backed tests were then plagued with inaccuracies and shortages. Then the Food and Drug Administration authorized a series of treatments and tests with little or no apparent oversight: hydroxychloroquine, adopted on the scantest of evidence; antibody tests, OK’d for use without review of their accuracy; convalescent plasma, the benefits of which were massively overstated.
The CDC refrained from commenting on the issue of public mask-wearing until April, when officials wanted to recommend mask-wearing in all areas of the country, but the White House insisted on emphasizing it was “voluntary” in high-transmission zones. It took until July for the CDC to say that face coverings are a “critical” tool for ending the pandemic. Then, in August, the CDC inexplicably changed its guidelines to say asymptomatic people didn’t need to be tested after exposure, only changing them back in September as cases once more began to surge. Meanwhile, political appointees at the Department of Health and Human Services tried to change results in CDC research reports and edited CDC guidance and press releases. There has been no unified plan from federal agencies to coordinate a response to the pandemic with states. All along, President Trump pushed the idea that the FDA could rush a vaccine by Election Day and stifled any experts who disagreed with his plans. Read more at The New Republic.
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