A very troubling story was reported last month. Even more troubling was the lack of attention it seemed to get:
The FDA’s director of the Office of In Vitro Diagnostics and Radiological Health, Timothy Stenzel, flew to CDC headquarters in Atlanta on the weekend of Feb. 22, but he was immediately forced to wait overnight as health department officials lobbied the CDC to give him access to the agency’s campus, according to Politico. Stenzel was there specifically to work out issues with the CDC’s coronavirus test that had already hobbled more expansive screening for weeks.
Anyone that knows me knows I despise conspiracy theories, but this story instantly smelled of a cover-up. Well as it turns out, that very well could have been:
As the new coronavirus took root across America, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention sent states tainted test kits in early February that were themselves seeded with the virus, federal officials have confirmed.
Shortly after the problems became apparent in early February, the Food and Drug Administration sent Timothy Stenzel, chief of in vitro diagnostics and radiological health, to the CDC to investigate what was going wrong. According to the Times, he found a lack of coordination and inexperience in commercial manufacturing.
Problems that led to the contamination included researchers coming and going from labs working on the test kits without changing their coats and researchers sharing lab space to both assemble test components and handle samples containing the coronavirus.
So the FDA knew there was problems. They responded by sending their top scientist, who is very well regarded in his field, to check out the CDC. The CDC blocked him from entering until the next day. Once he was able to enter, he found huge problems.
How many more problems would Stenzel have found if not blocked from doing his job? It sure sounds like there was something happening in those hours they kept him out.
Stories like this are the reason we need a thorough investigation into everything surrounding the federal response. It’s not just about assigning blame, but to also find the weaknesses in our federal agencies. How is it our leading national public health institute failed so miserably when needed?
Not only that, but what has changed since Trump took office? The CDC has always been at the top of their game. Look at H1N1 and Ebola. They’ve never had a problem like this before. Trump takes over and suddenly they do? What does the next president need to do to get the CDC to properly protect us?
These are all questions answered by a serious investigation into the failures and the reason why one must be done. Trump’s answer of “we did everything PERFECT!” will not cut it. And support for such an investigation should be bipartisan, yet Republicans will try to block it at every step of the way.
The bottoms line is this. When America needed the CDC to be at its best, it failed us. That failure most likely cost us tens of thousands of lives and that failure can not just be brushed aside.