Indeed, prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, CDC and other agencies were busy sounding the alarm about the nonexistent “epidemic” of youth vaping. Collectively, they spent billions on anti-vaping advertisements, biased research and lobbying, wasted countless hours of congressional hearing time, and squandering public trust. Had they remained focused on infectious disease, might have been prepared to fight real epidemics, like the COVID-19.
It was always a matter of when — not if — a new viral pandemic would make it to America. We are not immune to global outbreaks, evidenced by previous close-calls with SARS, H1N1 and Ebola. Epidemiologists even predicted the outbreak of COVID-19 with eerie accuracy.
Yet our government was unprepared for the novel virus now upending people’s lives and livelihoods in the United States and around the world. Our health agencies had the information and the resources, so they should have been planning for this, but they weren’t. The problem isn’t because they’re underfunded, it’s that they are bloated and mismanaged.
The core purpose of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is to control and prevent the spread of infectious disease. But a close look at how CDC spends its budget reveals it has strayed from this mission of protecting Americans from communicable diseases, turning more toward influencing people’s lifestyle choices.
In 2019 Congress authorized a budget of $7.3 billion for CDC. Roughly $2.5 billion to $3 billion of that was supposed to go toward fighting and treating infectious disease, but most of that was earmarked for existing pathogens — known threats. This includes $1.1 billion for HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and other sexually or intravenously transmitted infections and $800 million for an immunization and respiratory disease project aimed at increasing vaccinations against common infections like measles, HPV and season flu.
What about $855 million for “public health preparedness and response programs”? That appears to be mostly a conduit for transferring federal funds ($611 million in 2019) to state agencies during emergencies like natural disasters.
Sentinel & Enterprise – Michelle Minto – March 29, 2020.