Speed Reads

the coronavirus crisis

Former FDA commissioner: CDC 'doesn't know how to model' latest COVID-19 wave

The CDC "doesn't know how to model this wave [of coronavirus infections], and has little practical idea of whether we're at the beginning, middle, or end" of the Delta variant-fueled surge, former Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Scott Gottlieb wrote Saturday.

He notes the agency is estimating that by Aug. 14, there could be an average of anywhere between 10,000 and 100,000 new infections per day, which means the current wave will have either subsided or be "raging out of control" by that point.

The wide-ranging and "deeply disappointing" forecasts highlight the need for an "action-oriented agency able to engage in assessing and mobilizing preparations against future risks," Gottlieb argues. The CDC, on the other hand, "has a retroactive mindset," Gottlieb writes, adding that it doesn't "do horizon scanning, make predictions and tie to policy recommendations, coordinate heavy lift capabilities like vaccination campaigns, engage in risk estimates, or collect intelligence on foreign areas of concern."

It may sound like harsh criticism, but Gottlieb explains this simply wasn't "the business [the] CDC was in." Instead, its "thorough" and "meticulous" data reporting and analysis skills are better suited for providing definitive answers in the long run rather than "partial info to inform current decisions in a crisis." An agency that can produce the latter is needed, Gottlieb says, whether it's a reformed CDC or a new joint operational command. Read Gottlieb's entire Twitter thread here.