CDC hindered pandemic response, Gottlieb says

Former FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said in his new book “Uncontrolled Spread” that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention hindered the coronavirus pandemic response, according to Axios

The book, scheduled for release on Sept. 21, contends U.S. intelligence agencies should have a bigger say in pandemic responses in the future. 

Gottlieb argues the agencies should have more influence even at the expense of health agencies, saying the CDC was too slow in its implementation of policies and changes throughout the pandemic. 

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"Typically, security agencies have viewed the CDC as 'having this mission' or 'having the ball on this.' Clearly they don't," Gottlieb told Axios when discussing the book.

If intelligence agencies were more involved during the start of the pandemic, Gottlieb argues the U.S. would have moved faster to respond to the coronavirus. 

"We need to have human assets in the medical community so we understand when an outbreak emerges," Gottlieb said. "We need to have the capability of monitoring typical streams of intelligence, like signals intelligence and maybe even satellite intelligence, looking for things that could be trip wires for an outbreak of disease."

The CDC has been at the head of many coronavirus restrictions implemented during the pandemic, with states and companies following their lead on masking and vaccine mandates. 

Gottlieb had specific criticism of the agency's 6-foot social distancing guidelines. "That was the single costliest recommendation the CDC issued during this whole pandemic," he said.

He applauded the Trump administration for pushing back on the agency for originally wanting to set social distancing guidelines at 10 feet, and ultimately reducing it to 6 feet.

"If that had gotten out at the time, everyone would had said 'Oh my God. It's White House interference in the CDC.' But the White House was right to oppose it. It was arbitrary and it couldn't be implemented," Gottlieb said.

Social distancing guidelines are now reduced to 3 feet, but Gottlieb said the agency didn’t reduce the requirement until six months after receiving data that supported the move.