US CDC plans to focus on public health response after pandemic failings

The plan comes after months of criticism over its handling of the COVID-19 and monkeypox pandemics

Julie SteenhuysenReuters
Published : 17 August 2022, 06:32 PM
Updated : 17 August 2022, 06:32 PM

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said it will prioritise its public health response in a revamp of its structure after months of criticism over its handling of the COVID-19 and monkeypox pandemics.

A briefing document provided by the agency on Wednesday said an external report into its response found public guidance had caused confusion, while important information were sometimes released too late to inform federal decisions.

CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said in response the agency was undertaking a series of changes designed to make it more nimble at responding, quicker at providing data and less focused on publishing fully vetted scientific papers.

"For 75 years, CDC and public health have been preparing for COVID-19, and in our big moment, our performance did not reliably meet expectations," Walensky told CDC staff.

"I want us all to do better and it starts with CDC leading the way," she said, adding that the focus will be on creating an "action-oriented" culture that emphasizes accountability, collaboration, communication and timeliness.

As part of the changes, the CDC will name Mary Wakefield, former acting deputy secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services in the Obama administration, to lead a team to help implement the restructuring, the agency said.

The steps follow the external review ordered by Walensky in April of its handling of the COVID-19 pandemic.

To encourage faster communication, Walensky wants to create an online mechanism to share findings before they are completely published and expedite the data review process.

Toufique Imrose Khalidi
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