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Reuters: CDC’s early COVID response “marred by . . . career scientists and frontline staff”

Reuters: CDC’s early COVID response “marred by . . . career scientists and frontline staff”

“the agency declined or resisted potentially valuable opportunities to study whether the disease could be spread by those without symptoms”

A year has passed since the first reports of the novel coronavirus and its potentially devastating health effects surfaced from China.

A team of reporters from Reuters has taken a detailed look at the early responses by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and concluded the initial phase was marred “by the agency’s career scientists and frontline staff.”

Critics have widely asserted that the CDC fumbled key decisions during the coronavirus scourge because then-President Donald Trump and his administration meddled in the agency’s operations and muzzled internal experts. The matter is now the subject of a congressional inquiry. 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.

It is important to note that it is exceedingly difficult to prevent the transmission of airborne viruses, especially those that are structured (naturally or otherwise) to be especially adapted to impact human respiratory systems. After all, while there are actions we can take to reduce our chances of catching colds (also coronaviruses) or flus, we all eventually get them. So, I strongly doubt that any response is ever going to be “perfect.”

Furthermore, Reuters’ team focuses on the possibility of asymptomatic transmissions being a significant contributor. That assumption is still questionable. For example, one study published in Nature Communications shows that of the nearly 10 million cases of infection in Wuhan, China, only “300 asymptomatic cases” were found.” Contact tracing was then carried out and of those 300, no cases of COVID-19 were detected.

Additionally, last June, Maria Van Kerkhove, the World Health Organization’s (WHO) technical lead for COVID-19, said  that asymptomatic transmission appears to be “very rare.”

The WHO’s guidance also notes that some studies that have found evidence for asymptomatic transmission had small sample sizes, which would make their findings less statistically relevant. In addition, the WHO said, some of these studies did not rule out alternative explanations for how some patients may have contracted the virus, like touching a contaminated surface.

However, it is interesting that we seem to be seeing a shift from blaming an administration for failed policy to blaming an agency.

And while the subject of asymptomatic transmission can be debated, the Reuters report does provide troubling details on the experience, skill, and decision-making-process of CDC responders to incipient stages of the global outbreak. For example, CDC scientists botched the creation of test kits and took weeks trying to fix it, making widespread testing. Furthermore, members of CDC response team sent to Japan to address the outbreak on a cruise shop had no experience in infection control.

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.

The CDC “experts” also made questionable decisions regarding cruise ship passengers being transferred to Nebraska Medical Center to Lackland Air Force Base near San Antonio, Texas.

…[T]he CDC official moved the two people who had developed symptoms mid-flight back with the group of healthy passengers, and the CDC’s handling of the flight violated disaster medicine protocols, according to the report. The CDC official is not named in the report.

Similar problems occurred when Callahan arrived with another group of 167 Diamond Princess passengers at Travis Air Force Base in Northern California and a CDC officer boarded the plane, the report said.

The Reuters report certainly aligns with our reports questioning the assertions of other “experts” who have admitted to lying directly to the public. Yet I think the biggest takeaway is that our media will be keen to shift any blame for any problem that arises during the next four years away from the new administration. This report may represent the start of that transition.


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2smartforlibs | January 23, 2021 at 4:03 pm

in layman’s terms SWAMP CREATURES.

    Politically congruent, establishment bitter clingers, transnational colluders, people… persons on the frontline who bent their knee under the threat of lucractive liability (e.g. redistributive change, cancellation) claims, and others who deferred to restrictive mandates while ignoring science and common sense. Meanwhile, Japan has a low death count, and America is following the same pattern of infection and disease progression irrespective of restrictive mandates, which statistically, and based on transmission mode, are ineffective countermeasures.

    people who couldn’t perform in the private sector, we all know how hard it is to fire a government employee

    alohahola in reply to 2smartforlibs. | January 23, 2021 at 7:53 pm

    I’m glad they did nothing. They probably knew there was nothing to do.

    Don’t pass this off so Fauci and Brix get a pass. THEY were the frontline people. THEY f**cked it up. THEY got people killed. THEY destroyed our economy.

    But in reality, THEY were in on the fix, acting as agents for the left to destroy PDJT’s presidency.

    To cut to the chase: fauci and brix work for the Communist Chinese.

      Fauci for sure. After research of extending the function of viruses was banned in the US, Fauci sent research and millions of dollars to Wuhan. Second, he claims he looks at the science. He does’t. About 70% of the world uses HCQ, ACT, Zinc, and maybe a steroid, as the front line treatment for Covid. Yet Fauci claims HCQ does not work. By itself, no. But HCQ opens a pathway into the cell for the zinc and AZT to get in. Is “science” only looked at HCQ. That is like building a train tunnel and not sending anything through it. Of course it does not seem to work. When you process 1/3 of the treatment, it usually does not work.

      Fauci is a buffoon and a fraud. He kills people because he does not do science. He is a bureaucrat who has forgotten where to put the stethoscope. He is useless and should have been fired years ago.

JusticeDelivered | January 23, 2021 at 4:10 pm

Biden needs to admit that the reason he has nothing to do except allow CCP Virus to run its course, is that Trump had the gumption to push for rapid vaccine development. Trump is the man, Biden is the conman.

    Well, not really. Biden “needs” his meds, and a better nurse than he’s had so far.

    It would be nice for him to tell the truth about something but first he would have to remember it.

    Every single one of our grandmother’s could have told us that.

    Biden is a fake president, fraudulently elected. He is a puppet of a Junta now in charge of our country.

    Our only hope for freedom and safety is to secede. Tough news, but it’s better than winding up in one of Pelosi or Clinton’s ‘reeducation camps’ – or worse. And those are coming.

      henrybowman in reply to | January 24, 2021 at 4:03 am

      NO secession. Reclamation.

      Lucifer Morningstar in reply to | January 24, 2021 at 8:25 am

      Would you please stop with this secession nonsense. There is no possibility that any state would be stupid enough to attempt to secede from the Union. And even if such stupidity existed Biden would simply invoke marital law and the Insurrection Act and then move in the military and squash the state flat for their trouble. And that would be the end of it. So just stop with this nonsense, please. Just stop.

And a social contagion spread by the press that spread disinformation (e.g. early treatments), drove phobic responses, hospitalizations, and subsequent deaths. Restrictive mandates that flattened the curve and prolonged exposure, and collateral damage. That and Planned Parent/hood in several Democrat jurisdictions drove early excess deaths.

If Congress is looking in to this then you already know what ever report is issued will have tenuous links to reality.

    Congress is bullshit. It means nothing anymore. Our elections being fake means the maggots infesting Congress are fraudulently in power.

    Get used to that idea: we do not live in a free nation with free elections. ‘Voting software’ (Software? – Software for WHAT?) is the smokescreen for permanent (get that? PERMANENT) fake elections for the rest of our lives, if we stay in our former country.

Connivin Caniff | January 23, 2021 at 4:55 pm

Cut Biden a break. He’s been in his basement for a year.

    MajorWood in reply to Connivin Caniff. | January 23, 2021 at 9:22 pm

    I was just thinking of the old red rubber stamp people used on the backs of $20 that said “Trump lives here” with an arrow pointing at the WhiteHouse. We need a new one with “Biden lives here” and the arrow pointing to the basement.

caseoftheblues | January 23, 2021 at 5:27 pm

A team of “reporters” huh…hardly…they sat on their hands doing nothing and now crawl out of their holes to help lay the groundwork for Harris. Nothing but leftist propaganda agents

The blurry line between symptomatic and asymptomatic transmission is likely due to the nature of the symptoms themselves. Most of the early symptoms are very similar to those who deal with seasonal allergies, respiratory inflammation, and other similar conditions.

For this sub-population, it is not always obvious that something is different.

    dunce1239 in reply to healthguyfsu. | January 23, 2021 at 6:59 pm

    I have year round allergies but my nose stops running when i take Benedryl. i don’t think it would be that simple for kung flu.

Off topic (but very interesting): Amazon seeks to block mail-in voting for Amazon unionization vote.

The only blame that should be going on is that on those who perpetuated this COVID hoax.

    Start with Xi Jiping, and work your way down through EVERY elected democrat in Congress, then to scum like fauci, then the republicans who enabled them.

    Then look to the sadistic freaks like Whitmer and Cuomo, who took such bizarre joy in our misery.

    If you look at the truth of who should be blamed, you’ll realize you have no nation left. But there is a solution to that: secession.

“marred by the agency’s career scientists”

Come on, man, you’ve gotta follow the settled scientists!

“The CDC needs “people that can actually do public health when bad stuff happens,” Callahan said.”

That’s what happens when you start chasing BS narratives like “gun violence is a public health epidemic.” When a real epidemic comes along, they all pile out on the sidewalk, gawk, and ask each other, “What the HELL is that?”

I spent many years working as a research chemist at a government facility. As a result of this I became quite knowledgeable of how things in government research worked.

The three primary criteria for advancement in my job there was publications, publications, publications. Simply put, if you did not publish in peer reviewed journals, then you would not be successful there – or so they claimed.

In the years I spent there I, with my single part time technician, every year, published more than the entire department I worked in put together and I found promotions nearly impossible while others around me were being promoted.

When I first started working there, the researcher under which I was assigned was a potted plant who knew zero about research. Still this researcher maintained six technicians, never published anything, and was the darling of the department whose advice was consistently relied upon by management throughout the site. When he left years later a retired professor came in to take over his research and, after an extended study, threw every bit of this person’s six years of research in the trash for it was all deemed worthless.

Another time I was aghast when a new Ph.D. hire fresh out of school with one publication was promoted to fellow after being there for two years. (Fellow is the highest position one can achieve in a research organization and denote profound and highly respected knowledge brought about by years of stellar work and an extensive publication list to prove it.) Everyone questioned if his minority status had anything to do with the promotion.

Despite my extensive publication record I was only allowed to work on the project assigned to me. When I asked to submit grant proposals to build my own research program I was told that I could not and should I try I would be fired.

I finally quit the program when I was asked to be the plenary speaker at an international conference in Germany. This was quite an honor and the conference organizers were even going to pay for my hotel and plane fare for me to attend. Ultimately, I was told I did not have permission for foreign travel so I could not go to the conference.

Government research has pockets of excellence, but it is often overwhelmed with incompetence, cronyism, and politics. There is a reason why among scientists government researchers are looked down upon with a jaundiced eye. Unfortunately, those characteristics relegating government research to be severely substandard is now seeping into research in our universities.

    JusticeDelivered in reply to Cleetus. | January 24, 2021 at 2:16 pm

    I had a friend, retired from CDC, chemist, who lived in Alpharetta, Georgia, who passed away in 2008. It is always sad to lose such talent and a really decent human being.

I have noticed that Reuters is occasionally engaging in acts of journalism. I am rather shocked.

“common colds, which are also coronaviruses”. Actually, only about 15% of all common colds are due to coronaviruses; the vast majority of common colds are caused by rhinoviruses (a different family).

During Congressional testimony last fall, the CDC Director was asked if he had to choose, would he rather have a mask or a vaccine. He emphatically chose a mask.

Trump should have fired him before he finished testifying.

Credit to Trump – the best (only?) way to reduce total deaths is to find a treatment or a vaccine. And that’s where he focused the government effort.