...Yet Reuters has found new evidence that the CDC’s response to the pandemic also was marred by actions – or inaction – by the agency’s career scientists and frontline staff.
At a crucial moment in the pandemic when Americans were quarantined after possible exposure to the virus abroad, the agency declined or resisted potentially valuable opportunities to study whether the disease could be spread by those without symptoms, according to previously undisclosed internal emails, other documents and interviews with key players.
Soon after balking at testing the returnees from Wuhan, the agency delayed testing asymptomatic passengers among 318 evacuees from the Diamond Princess, a contaminated cruise ship in Japan. In addition, the agency failed at that time to make effective use of outside experts and appeared at times unprepared for the crisis on the ground, lacking adequate personal protective gear and ignoring established protocols, Reuters found.
According to [Dr. Michael Callahan, a veteran infectious disease specialist from Massachusetts General Hospital], he had to turn back two CDC staffers seeking to board the Diamond Princess in Japan because they had no current experience in emergency medicine and infection control.
Callahan said the problem was not isolated to the CDC’s coronavirus response. In his regular interactions in the field with CDC staff in recent years, he said, he has seen “a progressive degradation of clinical expertise and incident management,” particularly during Ebola outbreaks in Africa.
The CDC needs “people that can actually do public health when bad stuff happens,” Callahan said.