Americans should dump Trump and pick a president who prioritizes public health, says top medical journal Lancet

In an editorial published Saturday, the journal slammed the Trump administration's treatment of the CDC amid the COVID-19 pandemic


                            Americans should dump Trump and pick a president who prioritizes public health, says top medical journal Lancet
(Getty Images)

The Lancet, an influential medical journal whose editor Richard Horton recently said it was "unfair" to blame China for the coronavirus, has now urged Americans to vote President Donald J. Trump out of office and elect someone who won't let politics influence public health decisions. In an editorial published Saturday, the journal slammed the Trump administration's treatment of the CDC amid the COVID-19 pandemic. "The Administration is obsessed with magic bullets—vaccines, new medicines, or a hope that the virus will simply disappear," the Lancet said. 

According to the editorial, the only real way to combat the deadly virus is "a steadfast reliance on basic public health principles, like a test, trace, and isolate." This would be possible by having "an effective national public health agency" which "needs a director who can provide leadership without the threat of being silenced and who has the technical capacity to lead today's complicated effort."

According to the journal, the CDC "has seen its role minimized and become an ineffective and nominal adviser in the response to contain the spread of the virus."

The Lancet noted how White House coronavirus task force member Deborah Birx, who once was the director of the CDC's Global HIV/AIDS division, had said there was "nothing from the CDC that I can trust" with regards to the agency's mortality and case data on the coronavirus. "This is an unhelpful statement, but also a shocking indictment of an agency that was once regarded as the gold standard for global disease detection and control," the editorial said. "How did an agency that was the first point of contact for many national health authorities facing a public health threat become so ill-prepared to protect the public's health?"

Furthermore, the journal claimed that "funding to the CDC for a long time has been subject to conservative politics that have increasingly eroded the agency's ability to mount effective, evidence-based public health responses."

According to the editorial, the Reagan administration resisted budgeting the agency in their battle against HIV/AIDS in the 1980s and George W. Bush's administration restricted global and domestic HIV prevention and reproductive health programming in the 2000s. Fast forward to the Trump administration, the Lancet claimed that it "further chipped away at the CDC's capacity to combat infectious diseases."

The CDC staff in China had been drastically reduced, according to the journal, which said the last officer was recalled in July 2019. This resulted in an "intelligence vacuum when COVID-19 began to emerge," the Lancet claimed.

"Nancy Messonnier, director of the CDC's National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, warned US citizens to prepare for major disruptions to movement and everyday life," the journal wrote, before noting that "Messonnier subsequently no longer appeared at White House briefings on COVID-19."

Furthermore, it claimed the Trump administration further "undermined the CDC's leadership and its work during the COVID-19 pandemic" by casting doubts on the coronavirus guidelines the agency had put together.

"There is no doubt that the CDC has made mistakes, especially on testing in the early stages of the pandemic," the Lancet said, including the development of faulty test kits by the agency.

Nonetheless, the journal urged that "punishing the agency by marginalizing and hobbling it is not the solution" considering the United States is "still nowhere near able to provide the basic surveillance or laboratory testing infrastructure needed to combat the COVID-19 pandemic."

The constant growth of the pandemic points to "the inconsistent and incoherent national response to the COVID-19 crisis," according to the editorial.

"A strong CDC is needed to respond to public health threats, both domestic and international, and to help prevent the next inevitable pandemic," the Lancet insisted.

"Americans must put a president in the White House come January, 2021, who will understand that public health should not be guided by partisan politics," it concluded. 

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