The head of the Food and Drug Administration grossly misstated, then corrected, claims about the lifesaving power of a plasma therapy for COVID-19 authorized by his agency. Then the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention quietly updated its guidelines to suggest fewer Americans need to get tested for coronavirus, sparking outrage from scientists.
Trump’s own factual misstatements about COVID-19 are well documented, but the back-to-back messaging blunders by public health officials could create new damage, eroding public trust in front-line agencies. That’s already raising concerns about whether the administration will be forthcoming with critical details about upcoming vaccines needed to defeat the pandemic.
“I do worry about the credibility of the FDA and CDC, especially at a time when the capacity of the federal government to advance public health should be a priority for all policymakers,” said Daniel Levinson, former longtime inspector general of the Department of Health and Human Services, which oversees both the FDA and the CDC.