HHS secretary: Navarro's comments about CDC 'inaccurate and inappropriate'

HHS secretary: Navarro's comments about CDC 'inaccurate and inappropriate'
© Greg Nash

Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar on Monday denounced White House trade advisor Peter Navarro’s comments criticizing the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) handling of the coronavirus pandemic.

“The comments regarding CDC are inaccurate and inappropriate,” Azar said while making an appearance on Fox News’s “America’s Newsroom,” when asked about Navarro’s comments over the weekend. 

Navarro said Sunday the CDC “really let the country down” in its handling of coronavirus testing early on in the crisis. 


“Because not only did they keep the testing within the bureaucracy, they had a bad test. And that did set us back,” Navarro said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

Azar told Fox News the CDC “had one error” regarding scaling up the manufacturing of the test they developed. 

“There was a contamination that didn't affect the accuracy of the test, [it] just led to inconclusive results. They fixed that within weeks and got it out,” Azar said. 

“That was never going to be [the] backbone of testing in the U.S. That's low throughput public health lab testing,” he added. “What we need is the private sector to develop the test, the Abbotts, the Roches, the Thermo Fishers, get them in the market, get those high throughput tests that now the president is delivering 300,000 tests per day, over 10 million tests, 12.9 million will be done in just the next several weeks.”

Azar then praised President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump alludes to possible 2024 run in White House remarks Trump threatens to veto defense bill over tech liability shield Tiger King's attorney believes they're close to getting pardon from Trump MORE for marshaling a “whole of government approach” to ramp up testing. 

A senior CDC official also rebuked Navarro’s comments slamming the agency, telling CNN Sunday that Navarro’s criticism of the CDC is actually a denunciation of President Trump.

"We should remind Mr. Navarro that the CDC is a federal agency part of the administration. The CDC director is an appointed position, and Dr. [Robert] Redfield was appointed by President Trump," the unidentified CDC official told CNN Sunday.

"If there is criticism of the CDC, ultimately Mr. Navarro is being critical of the president and the man who President Trump placed to lead the agency,” the official added.