The Government’s Response to the Virus Is Sabotage, Not Incompetence
The corruption of these storied health organizations is the biggest scandal of the pandemic
It’s hard to know when my faith in the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) died. Was it in February when the CDC botched the development of its test for the novel coronavirus while the FDA refused to approve more effective ones developed by university labs? Maybe it was when the FDA granted an Emergency Use Authorization for hydroxychloroquine (since revoked) in the face of weak evidence and strong political pressure. Or perhaps it was the announcement this summer that the CDC had been stripped of its responsibility of processing coronavirus data, now outsourced to a questionable private company.
All I know is that I’ve felt this despair — that Americans are alone in the fight against this pandemic, a ship in a hurricane without a captain or crew — for a while. I never believed that the White House’s Coronavirus Task Force, led by Vice President Mike Pence — the man responsible for the worst HIV outbreak in Indiana’s history because of his refusal to accept a public health harm prevention tactic — was going to accomplish anything. But I held out hope that there were enough career scientists and physicians in the storied federal health agencies whose moral compass would be sufficient to navigate us out of the storm. I have no doubt that many of these people are still working day and night to try and fix the U.S.’s broken response to the virus, but their leaders have failed them and us.
This week brought a one-two punch of disbelief, rage, and disgust as first the FDA and then the CDC buckled to political pressure. On Sunday, the FDA issued an Emergency Use Authorization for convalescent plasma despite the urge for caution from Francis Collins and Anthony Fauci, the heads of the National Institutes of Health and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, respectively. Convalescent plasma — infusing the antibody-rich blood of recovered patients into newly infected ones — has been around for over a hundred years, and while we know the treatment is safe, its efficacy in the context of the novel coronavirus is unknown. The therapy has now…