Opinion | Was the C.D.C. Injected With Politics?


To the Editor:

Re “Questions Swirl Around C.D.C.’s Shift on Testing” (front page, Aug. 27):

As an infectious diseases specialist and former Centers for Disease Control and Prevention medical epidemiologist, I feel compelled to speak up in response to the recent change in C.D.C. guidelines on testing for coronavirus infection to exclude asymptomatic people. “If you see something, say something.”

The C.D.C. is highly respected, driven by science in the best interests of public health. That reputation is now being undermined. The Trump administration forced the C.D.C. to make these changes for two reasons: to minimize the utter failure of Mr. Trump’s response to testing and to make the case counts go down artificially, making them look better than they really are. This action follows the Food and Drug Administration’s emergency use authorization of convalescent plasma.

How will people be able to trust these agencies in the future? Their directors should resign in protest rather than follow these politically motivated directives from the White House.

Now we will never know the truth of the magnitude and trends of this epidemic. Just imagine what Mr. Trump will do with vaccine development and research. Shortly before the election he will force emergency use authorization of one or more vaccines before they are proven to be safe and effective (following the lead of his idol, Vladimir Putin).

Just imagine what this will do for the anti-vaxxer movement. The public at large will now feel justified buying into skepticism about the safety and efficacy not only of coronavirus vaccines, but also other vaccines approved by agencies that are being corrupted by political pressures.

Peter Cegielski
Atlanta

To the Editor:

I am confused. Why does the C.D.C. now say that close contacts of Covid-19 patients need not be tested unless they are symptomatic? Common sense tells us that asymptomatic contacts are the most important group to test if we hope to prevent spread within the community.

In fact it is more important to test asymptomatic contacts than to test people who have already developed Covid-19 symptoms. Symptomatic individuals will be presumed to be infected, even in the absence of a positive test, whereas asymptomatic carriers will unknowingly transmit the virus to others who will in turn further spread the infection.

I hope a persuasive reason emerges if and when the C.D.C. explains the basis for this new advisory. Until then it would be advisable for state public health authorities to ignore this advice.

Lawrence Rothfield
Bloomfield, Conn.
The writer is professor emeritus of molecular biology at the University of Connecticut.

To the Editor:

Why would the C.D.C. make such an ignorant statement? My daughter shares a house in Santa Barbara, Calif., with six other people. One of her housemates visited a friend in Los Angeles who seemed healthy. Three days later, the friend called to say she had tested positive for coronavirus. The returning housemate had no symptoms.

Within two days all seven housemates in Santa Barbara tested positive — three asymptomatic, four with serious cases, including my daughter. If none of them had been tested, they would have gone about their lives infecting others at the grocery, pharmacy, restaurants where they worked, etc.

This new guidance seems insane at best, politically motivated to suppress numbers at worst. Countries that have controlled the virus have extensive, comprehensive testing on a regular basis. We can’t send kids to school, people to work or have any hope of an economic recovery without wide testing. I’m shocked and saddened by this change in message.

Beth Friel
Pittsburgh

To the Editor:

So the C.D.C. has decided that people not exhibiting symptoms of Covid-19 need not be tested. May we assume, therefore, that asymptomatic people in the White House will no longer be tested? Even those in contact with the president? Yes, I’m sure that will be the case.

Jesse Allen
Santa Fe, N.M.



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