CDC Admits Abject Failure in Its COVID Guidance, Yet No One Is Held Accountable

Greg Nash/Pool via AP

Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Dr. Rochelle Walensky on Wednesday admitted what many people already knew: that the CDC botched its pandemic response with often “confusing and overwhelming” guidance. Despite calling for a reorganization of the department, neither she nor anyone else apparently will be held to account for their failures. Chief Medical Advisor to the President Dr. Tony Fauci will presumably continue to appear on TV to bash Americans, and Walensky will continue to issue proclamations on COVID and monkeypox that will later turn out to be wrong.

On Sunday I asked, “where do I go to get my apology?”

The press won’t be held to account either despite endlessly pushing out what is sometimes called “fear porn,” while social media companies will never pay the price for cracking down on anyone who was even slightly critical of “official” pronouncements.

The CDC’s mea culpa was issued Wednesday after Walensky in April ordered an outside firm to report on the agency’s recent performance. Although the review has not been released to the public, it’s clear its findings were unkind. From the New York Times:

“To be frank, we are responsible for some pretty dramatic, pretty public mistakes, from testing to data to communications,” she [Walensky] said in a video distributed to the agency’s roughly 11,000 employees…

Dr. Walensky said the C.D.C.’s future depended on whether it could absorb the lessons of the last few years, during which much of the public lost trust in the agency’s ability to handle a pandemic that has killed more than 1 million Americans. “This is our watershed moment. We must pivot,” she said.

What problems did the report find? A pattern of confusing pronouncements and a lack of clear leadership:

Its public guidance has often been confusing, even to public health experts. Leaders of its Covid team rotate so frequently that other senior federal health officials have at times been unsure about who is in charge. And important data was sometimes released too late to inform federal decisions, including studies on breakthrough infections that could have influenced a federal recommendation on authorizing a round of booster shots.

The CDC has also been criticized for not listening to the “science” and being unwilling to entertain opposing views:

The NY Post reports that an insider told the paper that Walensky said to employees, “Prior to this pandemic, our infrastructure within the agency and around the country was too frail to tackle what we confronted with COVID-19. To be frank, we are responsible for some pretty dramatic, pretty public mistakes—from testing, to data, to communications.” Notice what she didn’t say: that she was resigning and taking full responsibility for the failures.

Dr. Robert Malone, who is one of the inventors of the mRNA technology but a fierce opponent of vaccine mandates (who’s also banned on Twitter), writes in his Substack newsletter Thursday:

 I think that all can see that US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (and in particular, the current Director (former Harvard Med Professor) Rochelle Walensky, MD, MPH) has failed to meet expectations during two “Public health emergencies” in a row (COVID crisis and Monkeypox containment) and has become a political liability. So President Biden promptly stepped in to remove and replace her with a more experienced and competent Director, right? Not so much. It appears that the Administrative State (Senior Executive Service) had to do an intervention, and that rather than the (logical) termination of an arrogant and entitled academic who has failed to provide effective leadership through two declared Public Health Emergencies, Professor Walensky has been kneecapped, given the bureaucratic equivalent of training wheels, but is likely to continue her new career as a broadcast celebrity on CNN and MSNBC. Her future job awaits, it would seem, and Dr. Sanjay Gupta should be looking over his shoulder. [Emphais his.]

While it’s slightly refreshing that the CDC is finally admitting its COVID and monkeypox guidance has been a mishmash of often conflicting information and incorrect conclusions, it does nothing to undo the massive damage that their policies caused in the economic and personal lives of so many Americans. Somebody should be held accountable—but in Washington, DC, they’ll just get a raise and a promotion.

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