Infectious Disease

How would you grade the CDC’s and FDA’s performance during the pandemic?

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Disclosures:
Foster and Glatt report no relevant financial disclosures.

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Click here to read the Cover Story, “COVID-19 pandemic tested CDC and FDA, exposing cracks.”

A– for the FDA, F for the CDC, except for the vaccine rollout

The FDA gets an A– for moving relatively quickly to get test kits approved and gearing up for vaccine approval, although with less urgency for children.

Jill Foster

The CDC gets an F for how it rolled out testing but brought its grade up around vaccines. It botched the first test kit rollout while limiting efforts of those on the ground who were further ahead, failed to account for asymptomatic spread despite compelling data, waffled on masks and repeatedly went back to its influenza game plan, even though it was clear that COVID -19 was not influenza. It mostly redeemed itself during the vaccine rollout.

Neither agency was ready for a pandemic, and that is the biggest fault.

Jill Foster, MD, FIDSA, is a professor of pediatrics and director of the division of pediatric infectious diseases at the University of Minnesota Medical School.

A for effort and EUAs, lower grades for guidance and adaptability

I would give them both an A for effort and for how much hard work they did trying to come up with the best recommendations.

Aaron E. Smooth
Aaron E. Smooth

I would give the FDA an authorization for getting new vaccines and drugs through under emergency use, an extremely effective and useful tool.

For guidance on shutdowns and mandating the use of masks, I would give the CDC a B–. In terms of being able to act in an extremely rapid fashion with changing information, such as the ability to use prior infection and natural immunity in some of the policies, I would give them both a C–.

Aaron E. Glatt, MD, MACP, FIDSA, FSHEA, is chairman of the department of medicine and chief of the division of infectious diseases at Mount Sinai South Nassau and professor of medicine at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai.

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