Former Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Scott Gottlieb says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention lacked the ability to rise to the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic as it initially swept the nation.
“I think it's very difficult for an agency to have this self-awareness that they don't have the capacity to respond the way they're being asked,” Gottlieb said during a CBS News “Face the Nation” scheduled to air Sunday.
“And I think it's very difficult for an agency to self-organize differently in the setting of a crisis.”
Gottlieb, who served the FDA as commissioner from 2017-19, said that the CDC was more of a “scientific and analytical” agency that was more prepared to gather data from the disease and report findings to the public than having the “logistical” ability to develop and execute a plan to test the millions of citizens for the virus and roll out a vaccination program.
“That was a failure of political leadership, and it was a failure vision. But you know there were a lot of people who were good political leaders who all wrongly assumed that CDC had this mission,” Gottlieb said.
In his new book, “Uncontrolled Spread” due out next week, Gottlieb, a medical doctor, said the agency’s process was too slow to effectively implement policy changes during the crisis, and eventually had to reach out to both the FDA and Department of Defense, as well as private sector companies, to mount its battle with COVID.
He said during the interview that the CDC even botched its own rollout of a testing kit early in the pandemic due to manufacturing contamination.
According to a November 2020 NPR story, the CDC knew in February 2020 that test kits it created in a small infectious disease lab at its Atlanta, Ga., campus, showed the tests failing to correctly identify positive infections 33% of the time.
While that kind of quality control result would normally stop the rollout immediately, the agency decided to move forward and get the kits that they had developed quickly out to the public, taking precious weeks off a substantial response to the pandemic in its early days.
Eventually, the agency reached out for help to perfect and scale up its response and work with commercial companies to develop vaccines as part of President Donald Trump’s “Operation Warp Speed.”
“We needed to do that at day one, we need to get (Federal Emergency Management Agency), and the DOD engaged with the CDC in trying to organize a national level response,” Gottlieb said.
Gottlieb’s comments come after the FDA unanimously approved emergency authorization of third Pfizer vaccine booster shots for the elderly (65 and older) and high-risk individuals six months after getting their second dose.
"The logistical lesson on the rollout of the boosters is that they need to have in place the infrastructure to actually distribute those vaccines in hard-to-reach communities and hard-to-reach settings," he said.
© 2021 Newsmax. All rights reserved.