The United States lacks a federal infrastructure that can adequately deal with public health emergencies such as monkeypox and COVID-19, former Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Scott Gottlieb wrote in an opinion piece in The New York Times published over the weekend.
He said the U.S. failed to take monkeypox under control due to "an absence of coordination among federal agencies" and "poor planning, lack of urgency and clumsy execution" by the political leadership.
He bemoaned, "Our country's response to monkeypox has been plagued by the same shortcomings we had with COVID-19."
Gottlieb stressed: "Now if monkeypox gains a permanent foothold in the United States and becomes an endemic virus that joins our circulating repertoire of pathogens, it will be one of the worst public health failures in modern times not only because of the pain and peril of the disease but also because it was so avoidable. Our lapses extend beyond political decision making to the agencies tasked with protecting us from these threats."
The former commissioner highlighted the fact that the U.S. did not test enough people for monkeypox when the outbreak first occurred and that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention did not expand testing to large commercial labs until late June. Gottlieb said the CDC's "cultural instinct is to take a deliberative approach, debating each decision. With COVID, the virus gained ground quickly. With monkeypox, which spreads more slowly, typically through very close contact, the shortcomings of CDC's cultural approach haven't been as acute yet. But the shortfalls are the same."
Although he said the CDC should continue heading the country's pandemic response, he said that part of the solution should be for it to transfer some of its disease prevention tasks to other agencies.
Brian Freeman ✉
Brian Freeman, a Newsmax writer based in Israel, has more than three decades writing and editing about culture and politics for newspapers, online and television.
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