Instead of 'following the science,' the CDC and FDA 'altered' Covid guidance and 'suppressed' findings while under political pressure, accoridng to a 37-page report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO), a watchdog group which spoke with two former CDC directors, four former FDA directors and 17 employees who were involved with the US pandemic response.
As the Daily Mail reports, "They unearthed allegations of 'political interference' in scientific reports, raising fears that research was tampered with," and that "neither agency had a system in place for reporting allegations of political interference. It also said they had failed to train staff how to spot and report this."
The report defined 'political' interference as that which seeks to 'undermine impartiality... and professional judgement.' They set up an anonymous whistleblower hotline for 60 days which employees could call to report instances, and which received 'a few calls.'
A few respondents from CDC and FDA stated they felt that the potential political interference they observed resulted in the alteration or suppression of scientific findings. Some of these respondents believed that this potential political interference may have resulted in the politically motivated alteration of public health guidance or delayed publication of COVID-19-related scientific findings. -GAO
The whistleblowers say they didn't speak out earlier out of fear of retaliation - and didn't know how to report issues to higher-ups.
More from the report;
Through semi-structured interviews and a confidential hotline, employees at CDC, FDA, and NIH told GAO they observed incidents that they perceived to be political interference but did not report them for various reasons. These reasons included fearing retaliation, being unsure how to report issues, and believing agency leaders were already aware.
A footnote reveals that emails made public last April between Trump officials and CDC employees suggested that the agency had bent to pressure over a study in its weekly morbidity reports (MMWR).
In one 2020 email, former Trump scientific adviser Paul Alexander appeared to be celebrating getting the top line in one of its reports changed - writing "Small victory, but a victory nonetheless yippee!!!"
Meanwhile, the FDA was also accused of 'grossly misrepresenting' the effectiveness of blood plasma transfusions according to another GAO footnote which cited a New York Times article. The report slams the Trump administration for touting a '35% efficacy', when in fact plasma transfusions actually provided little benefit to Covid-19 patients.
On Tuesday, Biden's top Covid adviser, Dr. Anthony Fauci, declared that the US is now 'out of the pandemic phase' of the disease...
...however he quickly walked that back the statement - telling AP that the US is in a "different moment" but that the pandemic isn't over yet.
"After a brutal winter surge, "we’ve now decelerated and transitioned into more of a controlled phase," he said. "By no means does that mean the pandemic is over."
Why the 'clarification' Anthony?
The GAO report made seven recommendations to the four agencies it investigated for 'political interference,' according to the Mail, which included establishing systems for whistleblowers to report potential interference, as well as training staff how to identify and respond to it.
Read the GAO report below: