CDC Changes Its Mind About Wuhan Virus Transmission and That Tells You All You Need to Know About Our Current Mess

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FILE – In this Oct. 8, 2013, file photo, a sign marks the entrance to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta. The canceled federal conference on climate change and health problem is back on but apparently minus the federal government. Former Vice President Al Gore, the University of Washington, the Harvard Global Health Institute and the American Public Health Association are resurrecting a climate change and health conference set for next month that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had planned then canceled in December. (AP Photo/David Goldman, File)

Two very long months ago, back when most Americans still had jobs and virtually no one was walking around with a jockstrap over their face claiming that it protected them from Wuhan virus, the CDC and some partner groups made this announcement:

Researchers from the National Institutes of Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, UCLA and Princeton University examined how long COVID-19 survives in the air as well as on copper, cardboard, plastic and stainless steel and then compared it with SARS, the coronavirus that emerged in late 2002 and killed nearly 800 people.

They found that COVID-19 was detectable in aerosols for up to three hours, up to four hours on copper and up to 24 hours on cardboard. The new coronavirus can also last up to three days on plastic and stainless steel, the scientists concluded, adding the amount of the virus left on those surfaces decreases over time. Aerosols are solid or liquid particles that hang in the air, including fog, dust, and gas commonly used in medical procedures like ventilation and nebulizers.

The results suggest “that people may acquire the virus through the air and after touching contaminated objects,” Dr. Neeltje van Doremalen, a scientist from NIH and a lead researcher on the study, said in a press release announcing the findings Tuesday evening.

For the record, I’d just note that Dr. van Doremalen is in the Laboratory of Virology at the Rocky Mountain Laboratory of Dr. Anthony Fauci’s National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases, just so you know this is not just some rando doctor.


This set off a frenzy of people wiping down fruits, vegetables, canned goods, and packaging and generally panicking.

Well, it turns out that there is a small problem:

For those of you still wiping down groceries and other packages amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, breathe a sigh of relief: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) now says the novel virus “does not spread easily” from “touching surfaces or objects” — but experts warn that doesn’t mean it’s no longer necessary to take “practical and realistic” precautions in stopping the spread of COVID-19.

Although when the change was made is not currently clear, the federal health agency appears to have subtly shifted its guidelines from March which simply said it “may be possible” to spread the virus from contaminated surfaces.

“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,” the CDC said on a now-archived page from March 28. At the time, however, the CDC did note that this possible method of transmission “is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads.”

Even so, the CDC now includes “surfaces or objects” under a section that details ways in which the coronavirus does not readily transmit.

Other ways in which the virus does not easily spread is from animals to people, or from people to animals, the federal agency said on its updated page.


This new guidance follows by a month a similar announcement from the Food and Drug Administration:

The news comes after The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in mid-April issued a statement saying that there’s no need to wipe down food packaging after you’ve returned home from the grocery store.

“We want to reassure consumers that there is currently no evidence of human or animal food or food packaging being associated with transmission of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19,” the FDA said at the time.

If you are thinking the scientific advice given to the nation’s political leaders comes from a cabal of the kakistocracy, you would not be alone. Last Sunday, White House trade adviser Peter Navarro was on Meet the Press and he unloaded on CDC…and got a surprising amount of support from non-CDC people:

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention “let the country down” early in the nation’s response to the Covid-19 crisis when it failed to scale diagnostic testing across the country, White House trade advisor Peter Navarro said on Sunday.

“Early on in this crisis the CDC, which really had the most trusted brand around the world in this space, really let the country down with the testing,” Navarro told NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “Not only did they keep the testing within the bureaucracy, they had a bad test, and that did set us back.”

When asked whether the White House still has confidence in the CDC to lead the country’s response to the pandemic, Navarro said that “you should ask the president that question, not me.”

In April, The Washington Post reported that the CDC’s coronavirus testing kits were delayed due to “a glaring scientific breakdown” at the agency’s central lab. The error was “devastating to the country” and “really a terrible black mark on the CDC,” James Le Duc, a former CDC officer, told The Post.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration later confirmed with CNBC that the “CDC did not manufacture its test consistent with its own protocol,” according to a spokeswoman. The agency “was not able to determine from information provided by the CDC whether the test issues were due to a design or manufacturing issue,” the spokeswoman said.

Speaking with CBS on Sunday, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said the CDC, which is an agency under HHS, has had to “literally build this from the ground up” and that it was the private sector’s role to expand the CDC-developed test. He said the initial contaminated tests that the CDC developed prevented some of the scale up “for a couple of weeks.”


Sadly,  this kind of stupidity is par for the course for CDC. CDC has and does some great things but it is a failed organization that is currently living on its old press releases. What it would rather do is be a Karen-esque nanny brigade that tells you how to live and deal with political issues like health disparities, and obesity, and guns than deal with disease. When it does get put on the spot in an infectious disease crisis, it fails. If you go back to the response to the anthrax attacks that happened around 9/11, particularly the attack on the Brentwood (DC) USPS facility, you find blinding incompetence is the order of the day. (Making as much disclosure as I can comfortably make, I was in CDC, in a Center that was directly tasked with responding to the anthrax at the time and had a ringside seat at this particular circus.)

From the start, this crisis has been driven by fanciful models hawked to credulous reporters and pushed by people who wanted to damage President Trump in an election year. The actual scientific knowledge on this virus was minimal in all aspects but people who should know better saw personal and institutional gain in acting as though this was Armageddon. We know that face masks do nothing to prevent catching the virus. In fact, Dr. Fauci explains why face masks are actually detrimental on this 60 Minutes segment from March:


And yet, we are now forced to wear them in many states in order to shop and buffoons claim that if you don’t wear them then you are a bad person.

When this is all over, we’re going to see that the people we relied upon to advise policymakers were idiots…on a good day. The sad thing is that because they are scientists, they will be immune from all the consequences of their imbecility and hubris and when the next crisis happens, we’ll see these same morons calling the shots again.





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