U.S. CDC admits falling short in response to COVID-19
The chief of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Wednesday acknowledged that the agency had failed to respond effectively to the COVID-19 pandemic, and announced plans for extensive changes.
"To be frank, we are responsible for some pretty dramatic, pretty public mistakes, from testing to data to communications," said CDC Director Rochelle Walensky in a video distributed to the agency's roughly 11,000 employees.
"For 75 years, CDC and public health have been preparing for COVID-19, and in our big moment, our performance did not reliably meet expectations," she said in a statement.
"My goal is a new, public health, action-oriented culture at CDC that emphasizes accountability, collaboration, communication and timeliness," she said.
Walensky appointed Mary Wakefield, former deputy health secretary in the Obama administration, to lead the efforts for change.
Walensky laid out several organizational changes the CDC will take over the coming months to correct missteps and failures that occurred during the last two and a half years of the pandemic, according to a report of CNBC, citing a fact sheet.
The organizational changes are focused on sharing data more quickly and making public health guidance easier for people to understand, according to the report.
The CDC is also creating an equity office to make sure the agency's workforce reflects the U.S. population and better communicates public health guidance across all groups.
The recommendations for change come from an internal review of the CDC's structure, systems and processes that Walensky ordered in April.
Since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, the CDC repeatedly faced criticism for its response, including initial delays in developing coronavirus test, severe eligibility limits to get tested, confusing public health recommendations, and releasing data too slowly.
Some public health experts complained that U.S. briefings on the pandemic relied on data from other countries, such as the United Kingdom and Israel.
Even under the Biden administration, which appointed Walensky to lead the agency, its guidance and decision-making on masking, isolation and quarantine, and booster doses have been repeatedly faulted as slow, opaque and confusing, said a report of The Washington Post.
A consistent criticism has been the agency's failure to be agile, especially with the analysis and release of real-time data, said the report.
The White House has also grown frustrated with the CDC and other health agencies over their response to monkeypox, with regard to expedite testing, treatment and vaccine distribution.