Former FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said in a recent interview with CBS News that the CDC was never prepared to handle a COVID-19-wide crisis, and that the US government was suffering from a “vision defect” since the start of the pandemic. . The agency considered the gold standard for public health is better equipped for data analysis than for decisive action, he said.
âI think it’s very difficult for an agency to have this self-awareness that they don’t have the capacity to respond as asked,â Gottlieb said in an interview with Margaret Brennan, moderator of “Face The Nation”. and CBS News chief foreign affairs correspondent. “And I think it’s very difficult for an agency to self-organize differently in a context of crisis.”
Gottlieb, who led the FDA from 2017 to 2019, is the author of the new book, “Uncontrolled Spread: Why COVID-19 Crushed Us and How We Can Defeat the Next Pandemic,” which is released on September 21. The book includes reviews from the CDC, and Gottlieb says the agency was unable to respond when a crisis struck.
âThis is not a logistical organization. The CDC has a very retrospective mindset,â Gottlieb said. “It’s a high-science organization that does in-depth analytical analysis of data that is often out of sync with when decisions need to be made.”
The CDC faced constant criticism throughout the pandemic’s first year for its mixed messages on advice for masking andGottlieb slammed the agency for failing to quickly develop tests, research asymptomatic spread, and use the right models to project where the pandemic would go. He also said there was a lack of data to support public health decisions, which led to further errors.
His criticisms echo similar comments from former members of the White House COVID task force, includingand former deputy national security adviser
Under the Biden administration, the CDC continued to not communicate its policies. New guidelines in May that Americans no longer needed to wear masks in many situations sparked national confusion, and it came shortly before the Delta variant resulted in the return of many efforts from mitigation.
Gottlieb acknowledged that no single agency would have had the operational capacity to respond to a crisis as severe as COVID-19.
âWe needed a comprehensive approach,â he said. “We need to set up the public health laboratories. We have to simultaneously set up the clinical laboratories, the laboratories inside the hospitals. And we have to ask the private manufacturers to develop test kits that can be used in all commercial laboratories nationwide. “
“It was supposed to happen in January ”he added.” Now the CDC should have raised their hand and said, ‘We really don’t have that.’ “
Gottlieb, who sits on Pfizer’s board of directors, cited the Operation Warp Speed ââpartnership that developed COVID vaccines as an example of a successful collaboration. This effort brought together teams of scientists and regulators from government and private industry, and the Department of Defense helped scale up manufacturing and distribution.
This is the kind of cooperation that was needed much earlier, he said.
“We had to do it from day one. We have to involve FEMA and DOD with the CDC to try to organize a response at the national level, and that was a failure of political leadership,” Gottlieb said. “There were a lot of people who were good political leaders who mistakenly thought the CDC had this mission,” he added.