The narrative around what works and what doesn’t in the battle against COVID-19 has become an ever-shifting target. The once-trusted Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has of late been adding fuel to the conspiracy fire by switching positions and shifting stances. While recommendations are likely to change as more data becomes available, 180-degree turns on proclamations have left the American public hungry for facts they can believe, and the federal agency tasked with protecting health on the verge of despoiling its formerly esteemed reputation.
Perhaps the most notable COVID confusion factor is the flip-flops on what works and what doesn’t.
Past, Meet Present
In late December, the CDC reduced the recommended isolation time for those who have contracted COVID-19 from ten days to just five. While this was almost surely a welcome reprieve for businesses and families, the fact that the adjustment came two years into the pandemic has raised many an eyebrow.
The public was – as it turns out, rightly – asking early on in the crisis how long the infected were contagious. That this question took more than 23 months to answer has caused many to wonder if the initial recommendation was based more on politics than science.
In March 2021, CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky told viewers of MSNBC that “Our data from the CDC today suggest that vaccinated people do not carry the virus.” That data prompted a significant uptick in people choosing to be vaccinated. Days later, a CDC spokesman told The New York Times, “the evidence isn’t clear” and that the director had been “speaking broadly.”
“It’s possible that some people who are fully vaccinated could get COVID-19,” the spokesman continued. “The evidence isn’t clear whether they can spread the virus to others. We are continuing to evaluate the evidence.”
But the CDC is not the only scientific resource noted for changing stances.
Dr. Anthony Fauci described China’s lockdown measures as “Draconian” on March 8, 2020; just one week later, he declared that he was “open” to a 14-day lockdown for Americans. When President Donald Trump banned travel from China early in the pandemic, Fauci warned that it would merely delay the spread. Soon after, he agreed with Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA) in Congress that such a move did indeed save lives.
One element that has been missing from the public stage in the debate over coronavirus protection is that of personal health. Social media channels have been removed, platforms demonetized, and individuals targeted for suggesting that one’s health regimen and general fitness might play a role in protecting against COVID-19. The governments of the world have united behind the idea that the way to limit casualties in this pandemic was to vaccinate, vaccinate, vaccinate.
Popular podcast host Joe Rogan was taken to task by the Fourth Estate and government officials for his stance on physical health being a determining factor in preventing severe illness. He was pilloried and mocked, and demands were made that Spotify cancel his show – denying him a platform.
And yet, speaking with Good Morning America, Walensky confirmed that, of those who have died with COVID, more than 75% had at least four comorbidities. To be clear, morbidity – according to the National Cancer Institute – refers to “having a disease or a symptom of disease.” Comorbidity means more than one morbidity.
Walensky estimated that “the overwhelming number of deaths, over 75 percent, occurred in people who had at least four comorbidities … So really, these are people who were unwell, to begin with, and yes, really encouraging news in the context of Omicron.”
A Matter of Trust
As legendary rocker and balladeer, Billy Joel once sang, “it’s always been a matter of trust.” When the very agencies responsible for informing the American public on medical issues change stance in the blink of an eye, the volte-face leaves folks who are desperate for solid information cold.
The population is starved of reliable data; compounded by heavy-handed censorship courtesy of Big Media, we see intelligent people forced to turn to the “fringes” of the media realm. And then, the federal government decries the growth of misinformation. Perhaps in its war to end faulty conceptions, it could start by asking the agencies it controls to be a little more consistent and a little less territorial in the quest for narrative.
Ultimately, the Centers for Disease Control is in danger of making itself look as though it is acting politically. And from that, it may never recover.
~ Read more from Mark Angelides.