The Embarrassing Decline of the CDC

Pain patients aren’t the only ones who have noticed that the CDC has become an underfunded, less and less science-based propaganda tool more than a well-funded, non-partisan, and critical health agency.

The blundering incompetence now evident in the Center for Disease Control as it tries to perform its core mission, to control the spread of infectious diseases, shows that it no longer hews to scientific standards and no longer deserves to be respected and trusted.

I hope this makes people think twice about believing whatever comes out of this agency, especially concerning areas outside their mandated expertise, like medical care for pain patients. 

CDC: remember who you are – STAT  – by Sudip Parikh – Apr 2020

Public health wins are quiet — the child born healthy, the loved one still safe, the crisis averted, the economy strong. Public health losses, like the nation’s failure to develop an early and accessible diagnostic test for novel coronavirus, are loud.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, what has been the nation’s — and arguably the world’s — preeminent public health agency, must shake off its recent failures, steel itself for what is to come, and display the leadership and competence it possesses.

We need the CDC to do the kind of essential work it has done in the past, and are pulling for it to do so now against Covid-19.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, what has been the nation’s — and arguably the world’s — preeminent public health agency, must shake off its recent failures, steel itself for what is to come, and display the leadership and competence it possesses.

We need the CDC to do the kind of essential work it has done in the past. …in moments of public health crisis, accurate and precise communication is paramount.

And that’s exactly what we’re no longer getting from the agency.

Quietly and effectively, the CDC projected American competence and leadership.

That stands in sharp contrast to the failures of the CDC in the face of Covid-19, from

the inability to facilitate widespread testing diagnostics

to fostering miscommunication

to failed advocacy within the states and at the highest levels

to value and listen to trusted and credible scientific and health experts.

These public health failures and losses are loud — and consequential. …the CDC has almost disappeared from the national conversation.

There is no question that the credibility of the CDC has been damaged by the last 90 days, and particularly by the increasingly discordant claims that no mistakes have been made.

The American people are savvy. We recognize the reality that good, smart, hard-working people can make mistakes. But we cannot continue to trust when reality is denied and communication is inadequate.

The scientific community and the American people will rally to the CDC if they see the calm, rational, and visible leadership they have seen in the past, in movies, and in the namesakes of other nations’ CDCs around the world. Visible leadership by the CDC in speaking the truth about public health can drive public opinion.

Remember who you are, CDC. The public health win against Covid-19 will be loud. But we need your help to get there.

About the Author
Sudip Parikh is chief executive officer of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and executive publisher of the Science family of journals.  sparikh@aaas.org 

What Happened to the CDC? | American Council on Science and HealthBy David Shlaes — April 20, 2020

The botched CDC attempt at providing testing for public health labs around the US was clearly a major roadblock to establishing the kind of robust testing we would have needed early in the US outbreak. 

As I noted in a previous blog, what we needed to do at the beginning was to identify infected individuals, get them quarantined and then identify all their contacts, test them and quarantine them as necessary.

By the time we had any sort of access to widespread testing, limited as it has been, it was too late to carry out this basic outbreak control measure and we were stuck with our current situation – everyone and everything locked down.  This critical misstep may have led to the fact that the CDC has been shunted aside. 

Recently the CDC released guidance for allowing employees at essential businesses to work follow an exposure to a known covid-19-infected individual. This guidance suggests that as long as the individual is asymptomatic, it is OK for them to be at work.

But this guidance flies in the face of clear evidence suggesting that pre-symptomatic or asymptomatic individuals are responsible for up to 25-30% of covid-19 transmission to others.

I queried the CDC as to the scientific basis for this recommendation.  They responded without actually providing the kind of scientific data I requested. They do recommend that workers be screened for fever and that they maintain a distance of 6 feet from others . . . .

Currently, the CDC is relying on death certificates (with many caveats) to tabulate coronavirus mortality.

But they know that this is entirely unreliable.

This is the same sloppy, biased, and misleading counting that they used to prop up their unprofessional opioid guidelines.

Because they combined illicit with prescription drugs and counted single overdoses multiple times, all efforts focused on the much easier to find prescription opioids, even while illicit fentanyl was driving the overdose numbers all along:

the CDC has the expertise to validate the various tests we need to be using including the current ones used to identify infected patients and the antibody tests we need to determine who has already been infected and who might be immune to the virus.

Where are these analyses – especially of the many antibody tests that are currently on the market in the US without having been formally validated by FDA? 

I have wracked my brain trying to understand what could have happened to the professionals at CDC.

One example might be Dr. Nancy Messonnier who tried to warn Americans of the coming epidemic at the end of February. We have hardly heard from her since.

I’m tempted to speculate that the CDC, similar to what happened at FDA a number of years ago, came under severe political pressure with the result that career scientists are keeping their heads down.

If so, I find this to be incredibly unfortunate since the CDC is one place where we have the expertise we need to face this epidemic.  It just seems like the CDC experts have been missing in action.  

4 thoughts on “The Embarrassing Decline of the CDC

  1. canarensis

    I can’t help rolling my eyes til they nearly fall out of my head at all the honking on about how magnificent & professional & excellent & blah blah blah the CDC was before the CoVid disaster. I’m surprised the writers of the pieces didn’t toss in something about the US having the greatest health system in the world, bar this currently little faux pas. We pain patients have known for years that the CDC & the US health system are both jokes at best, murderously incompetent propaganda & profit machines at worst.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    1. canarensis

      PS: I don’t mean this as a criticism of posting the stories, Zyp!! Your analysis of them was as high quality as usual. Can we vote you in charge of the US health system? Nah, that’d be an awful thing to do to a good person; never mind. Fighting the corporate medicine machine would be gruesome.

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply
    2. Zyp Czyk Post author

      And the CDC even hired a public relations agency to polish their image. Unfortunately, there’s no covering up of the stink from their asinine butting-in-where-they-don’t-belong opioid guidelines. “Murderously incompetent” is a perfect description.

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply
      1. canarensis

        PR firms & “spin,” the truths of the 21st century…ta hell with actual reality.
        & thanks…when that phrase popped into my muddled head, it seemed very apt. Glad to hear I wasn’t deluding myself ;-)

        Liked by 1 person

        Reply

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