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The Lancet's Critique

In an editorial, the Lancet criticizes the US response to the COVID-19 pandemic and the minimization of the role of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in that response.

While the Lancet acknowledges the CDC made errors early in its pandemic response — the SARS-CoV-2 testing kits the agency rolled out were flawed — it writes that the agency has been pushed aside in the ongoing response. Its prominence in the Trump Administration response declined, it says, following a warning from Nancy Messonnier, director of the CDC's National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, in late February that people in the US should prepare for disruptions to their everyday lives. The Lancet also notes recent guidelines the CDC prepared on reopening the country have been largely dismissed by the Trump Administration. "But punishing the agency by marginalising and hobbling it is not the solution," the Lancet says. 

The editorial further argues that "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."

The Washington Post notes that while medical and scientific journals do publish signed editorials that may take a political stance, it is unusual that the editorial board of a publications like the Lancet would call for a leader to be voted out of office. "It's not common for a journal to do that ⁠ — but the scientific community is getting increasingly concerned with the dangerous politicization of science during this pandemic crisis," Benjamin Corb, public affairs director for the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, tells it.

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