Lancet editorial blasts Trump’s ‘inconsistent and incoherent’ coronavirus response

The strongly worded critique highlights mounting frustration with the administration’s response among some of the world’s top medical researchers. It is not uncommon for medical journals to run signed editorials that take political stances, but rarely do publications use the full weight of their editorial boards to call for a president to be voted out of office.

The Lancet published the editorial as the death toll in the United States surpassed 85,000 and many states moved to reopen businesses and ease coronavirus restrictions experts say are necessary to contain the virus.

The journal said that while infection and death rates have declined in hard-hit states such as New York and New Jersey after two months of virus restrictions, new outbreaks in Minnesota and Iowa have raised questions about the efficacy of the Trump administration’s response.

The authors accused the administration of undermining some of the CDC’s top officials, saying the agency “has seen its role minimised and become an ineffective and nominal adviser.” They noted that the agency, which is supposed to be the primary contact for health authorities during crises, has been hamstrung by years of budget cuts. The editorial said the administration left an “intelligence vacuum” in China when it pulled the last CDC officer from the country in July 2019.

The Lancet also took the CDC to task for its botched rollout of diagnostic testing in the critical early weeks that the virus began to spread in the United States. The country remains ill-equipped to provide basic surveillance or laboratory testing to combat the disease, the journal said.

“There is no doubt that the CDC has made mistakes, especially on testing in the early stages of the pandemic,” the editorial said. “But punishing the agency by marginalising and hobbling it is not the solution.”

“The Administration is obsessed with magic bullets — vaccines, new medicines, or a hope that the virus will simply disappear,” it continued. “But only a steadfast reliance on basic public health principles, like test, trace, and isolate, will see the emergency brought to an end, and this requires an effective national public health agency.”

A White House spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment Friday morning.

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