CDC Bungling Coronavirus Response

CDC updates COVID-19 transmission webpage to clarify information about types of spread | CDC Online Newsroom | CDC – For Immediate Release: Friday, May 22, 2020

Even when doing the job that’s the entire purpose of their existence (infectious disease control), they can’t stop screwing up. At this critical time, the CDC keeps bungling, over and over, their coronavirus response.

By now, they’ve had to issue retractions/corrections to at least four of their official statements and policies:

1. Mask issue:

At first, they claimed a mask wouldn’t be useful unless you’re sick.

Now they admit mask-wearing is helpful because any barrier at all is far better than none at all. 

2. COVID counting

Then, the CDC had to admit that their COVID “active cases” count included not only people who were currently sick but also those who had been sick and now over it.

They are doing exactly what they did with the opioid crisis when they lumped together illicit street drugs with prescribed opioids to count as undifferentiated “opioid overdoses”.

In both cases, opioids and coronavirus, these inexplicable combinations of distinct and critical categories being counted misleads public health efforts, resulting in misdirected policies that and have significant negative consequences.

3. COVID transmission

Initially, all focus was on the “droplets” expelled from sick people, deposited on surfaces, and staying viable for days (in minute amounts under ideal lab conditions).

The focus on transmission by touching set up a sanitizer buying and disinfecting frenzy that served little purpose. People forget that you can’t catch it through the skin by touching, only when you then touch that skin to a mucous membrane (eyes, nose, mouth).

Now they’ve had to correct their website and admit that most transmission is the same as for other viruses: sharing airspace in close person to person contact, while transmission by touching surfaces is a minor concern.

From their new webpage where they are trying to explain themselves and, in my opinion, only embarrass themselves further:

CDC updates COVID-19 transmission webpage to clarify information about types of spread

CDC actively reviews our website to make sure the content is accessible and clear for all types of audiences. As a result of one such review, edits were made to the organization of the COVID-19 transmission page, including adding a headline in an attempt to clarify other types of spread beyond person to person. This change was intended to make it easier to read, and was not a result of any new science.

After media reports appeared that suggested a change in CDC’s view on transmissibility, it became clear that these edits were confusing.

Therefore, we have once again edited the page to provide clarity.

The primary and most important mode of transmission for COVID-19 is through close contact from person-to-person.

Based on data from lab studies on COVID-19 and what we know about similar respiratory diseases, it may be possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes, but this isn’t thought to be the main way the virus spreads.

And here’s the edited page that started the controversy:

How Coronavirus Spreads | CDC

COVID-19 is thought to spread mainly through close contact from person-to-person. Some people without symptoms may be able to spread the virus. We are still learning about how the virus spreads and the severity of illness it causes.

The virus is thought to spread mainly from person-to-person.

  • Between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet).
  • Through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or talks.
  • These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs.
  • COVID-19 may be spread by people who are not showing symptoms.

The virus that causes COVID-19 is spreading very easily and sustainably between people. Information from the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic suggest that this virus is spreading more efficiently than influenza, but not as efficiently as measles, which is highly contagious.

It may be possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes.

This is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads, but we are still learning more about how this virus spreads.

At this time, the risk of COVID-19 spreading from animals to people is considered to be low. Learn about COVID-19 and pets and other animals.

It appears that the virus that causes COVID-19 can spread from people to animals in some situations.

Protect yourself and others

Maintain good social distance (about 6 feet). This is very important in preventing the spread of COVID-19.

Wash your hands often with soap and water. If soap and water are not available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.

Routinely clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces.

And, just when I thought I’d finished, I remembered the fiasco of the CDC’s first coronavirus tests being contaminated and useless.

4. COVID testing

C.D.C. Labs Were Contaminated, Delaying Coronavirus Testing, Officials Say – The New York Times – Apr 2018

Fallout from the agency’s failed rollout of national coronavirus kits two months ago continues to haunt U.S. efforts to combat the spread of the highly infectious virus.

Sloppy laboratory practices at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention caused contamination that rendered the nation’s first coronavirus tests ineffective, federal officials confirmed on Saturday.

Two of the three C.D.C. laboratories in Atlanta that created the coronavirus test kits violated their own manufacturing standards, resulting in the agency sending tests that did not work to nearly all of the 100 state and local public health labs, according to the Food and Drug Administration.

Early on, the F.D.A., which oversees laboratory tests, sent Dr. Timothy Stenzel, chief of in vitro diagnostics and radiological health, to the C.D.C. labs to assess the problem, several officials said.

He found an astonishing lack of expertise in commercial manufacturing and learned that nobody was in charge of the entire process, they said.

Problems ranged from researchers entering and exiting the coronavirus laboratories without changing their coats, to test ingredients being assembled in the same room where researchers were working on positive coronavirus samples, officials said.

Those practices made the tests sent to public health labs unusable because they were contaminated with the coronavirus, and produced some inconclusive results.

Forced to suspend the launch of a nationwide detection program for the coronavirus for a month, the C.D.C. lost credibility as the nation’s leading public health agency

The blunders are posing new problems as some states with few cases agitate to reopen and others remain in virtual lockdown with cases and deaths still climbing.

public health laboratories started receiving the C.D.C. kits on Feb. 7, and by the next day members were already calling him to report that the test was not working accurately.

The F.D.A. concluded that C.D.C. manufacturing issues were to blame and pushed the agency to shift production to an outside firm. That company, I.D.T., accelerated production of the C.D.C. test and says no more issues were reported.

Meanwhile, the F.D.A. also came under fire for not initially allowing commercial labs like Quest and LabCorp and others to begin ramping up production of their own tests.

I’m sure we’ll find even more instances of the CDC screwing up since that seems to be its mode of operations lately.

With so many critical mistakes, how can this agency be trusted with any of its other projects, like the “opioid” issue? I think this obvious failure will give us ammunition to push back against their meddling in pain care.

If they can’t even do the job they were founded to do, they certainly can’t be trusted to handle any other work outside their mandate.

Their miscounting of opioid overdoses, mixing illicit with prescribed drugs, has muddled and misdirected the public health policy response to the overdose crisis as well.

Rather than warning that drug dealers were mixing poisonous illicit fentanyl into their other illicit drugs, the CDC has insisted doctors should prescribe less pain medication. There is little overlap between pain patients and street-drug users, but the CDC’s “opioid overdose” counts made them look like a single large group.

That deliberate misdirection was fueled by the CDC’s abdication of their responsibility when they let the stridently anti-opioid PROP group devise the text (and true intention) of the CDC’s opioid guideline.


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