We need a faster version of CDC, former FDA commissioner says

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CHICAGO (NewsNation Now) — Some of the confusion and skepticism in America over COVID-19 may stem from the relationship between the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration, the FDA’s former commissioner said.

As a guest on NewsNation’s “On Balance With Leland Vittert” Tuesday, Dr. Scott Gottlieb said the American people might appreciate more nimble organizations.

“What you really needed in this setting of a public health crisis was a real-time organization that could surface information, even partially informed information, to inform current policy decisions that had to be made,” Gottlieb said.

The CDC was formed 75 years ago and has evolved to specialize in disease analysis, Gottlieb said. But he believes their wheelhouse is in long-term studies that evolve over several months. He said it may have been more helpful to show Americans more data.

The CDC did not immediately return a request for comment. It does have current coronavirus data, including outbreak status for counties across America, on its website.

The CDC and Gottlieb’s former organization, the FDA, had a recent tug of war over booster shots. The FDA did not authorize boosters for as many Americans as President Joe Biden said this summer should get the shots. Then, CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said more people should take them than the FDA authorized. One of those groups Walensky endorsed for boosters but the FDA did not is frontline workers.

“They are every day on the frontlines confronting people, oftentimes with COVID, who are caring for the most vulnerable,” Walensky said Monday on NewsNation’s “The Donlon Report.” “They’re often taking care of or teaching the unvaccinated (youth) in our schools.” 

Gottlieb said this back-and-forth is baked into the dynamic between the two organizations and is a productive debate for things like vaccines required for children to attend school.

He also said he favors vaccine mandates for federal workers and medical workers but is not sure the juice will be worth the squeeze on Biden’s upcoming mandate for all workers at companies with more than 100 employees.

“I have real questions about whether the benefits in terms of what you’re going to achieve and in terms of the incremental number of people who will get vaccinated is worth the disharmony that you’re going to create,” he said on “On Balance.”

The rate of new infections nationwide has dropped nearly 29% since its summer peak Sept. 1. Gottlieb said he’s “hopeful this is going to be the last major surge of infection.”

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