The loss of two longtime CDC leaders, combined with a change in Walensky’s reaction to Covid-19, cemented the CDC chief’s authority, giving her control of some of the most critical political talks surrounding the pandemic. The changes she has made also strengthen her agency’s independence from the White House. As POLITICO reported, several senior White House officials – including some from the White House Covid-19 Task Force – said the CDC had not warned them until the morning of the announcement that vaccinated people could give up masks in most situations.
Another senior administration official who was directly aware of the situation said Valenski had limited the news of the upcoming change to a small group of CDCs. officials so that the agency can better control communications and not inform local and state public health officials and public policy groups across the country.
Walensky decided to change the response structure of the Covid-1
A senior Biden health official described the relocation to the CDC as “a long time ahead.”
“When Biden entered the office, there was a lot of early talk about how the CDC would work … who would run it and what he had to do to get back on track,” the senior health official said. “Dr. Valenski was chosen for the best job and was in high demand. But I think it’s fair to say that there have been some hiccups in the last few months that have created some tension in the agency. And I think we’re starting to see the CDC director make some moves to change things. “
In a statement, CDC spokesman Jason MacDonald said the agency had “reorganized the incident management structure to best suit each phase of COVID-19’s response.” He added that “previous reorganisations have added efficiency and improved co-operation”. Another senior CDC official said Valenski was “informed of changes but not directly involved in decision-making” about the agency’s restructuring.
The first hint that a major reorganization was taking place came in late April, when Messonie, then head of the Covid-19 vaccine working group, went on leave. At the time, CDC staff described it as an unplanned vacation. Behind the scenes, Valenski had decided that the vaccines working group should be placed under the supervision of the agency’s top management, instead of reporting to both CDC Brass and the White House, three senior health officials said.
Messonie, who acted semi-autonomously, was told that the vaccine working group would now report to the CDC incident response team, led by Henry Walk, director of the agency’s Preparedness and Emerging Infections Division, which reported to Valensky. Two weeks later, Messonie resigned after About 20 years in the agency. It was one of the first high-ranking departures from the CDC during the pandemic, despite months of pressure and attacks that the agency had overcome through the Trump administration.
By the time Messonie announced his release, several CDC officials said the vaccine the working group was reshaped as the vaccine was launched smoothly and the group’s mission changed. Placing the group under the incident response team was a positive sign, the CDC officials said because it means there is less need for in-depth supervision of the vaccine. The Vaccine Working Group oversaw the distribution, administration and administration.
Most recently, Walensky reassigned agency staff, who had previously been part of the Ministry of Health and Social Services’ interdepartmental working group Covid-19, the “joint coordination cell” that was recently disbanded. Some of these officials have either returned to normal CDC work on a full-time basis or are employees of CDC target groups.
Growing criticism of vaccine guidelines
Through all these changes, the agency is writing and rewriting its guidelines on safety protocols for vaccinated people.
The CDC drafted the first version of this board in early March. After two days of meetings and talks with senior officials of the Covid-19 working group of the White House and HHS, the CDC was told to “stop releasing the recommendations,” as POLITICO reported earlier. A senior White House official denied any interference and said the CDC just needed time to read the staff, not change the guidelines.
The agency eventually issued the guidelines on March 8 – advising vaccinated people they could come together without masks or stay 6 feet apart. The recommendations also say that vaccinated people can gather indoors without masks, with unvaccinated people from another household. Then, on April 2, the CDC said that fully vaccinated Americans could resume travel in the country and overseas as long as they wore masks in public.
Three weeks later, the agency released a major update: Vaccinated people should no longer wear masks indoors or outdoors when in small groups with other fully vaccinated friends and family – and in some circumstances may be left without masks with unvaccinated people.
This version of the guidelines has been widely criticized. People in the Biden administration complained that the language of the CDC was confusing. Republicans on Capitol Hill and across the country say the agency is too cautious and prescribing in ways that restrict vaccinated people.
CDC officials have long argued that vaccine guidelines only develop when science becomes available and supports change. But a senior administration official familiar with the situation said officials at the CDC, White House and HHS often disagreed on whether to relax restrictions on vaccinated individuals.
In late March and early April, several CDC officials argued that science did not support the repeal of things like mandates, especially because the guidelines could signal that it is safe for all Americans to abandon public health measures. Other senior officials say the country has vaccinated enough people that it is safe to allow those people to choose with other fully vaccinated Americans.
Change in leadership
Wellenski decided to put Walk at the head of the next phase of the vaccine guidelines just days before Messonie resigned. On May 13, a week after the official departure of Messonie, the CDC said vaccinated people could remove masks at any type of group gathering – large or small, indoors or outdoors, whoever was present.
The decision marks a significant change in the tone of the health agency, which for months delayed the repeal of public health measures, even for vaccinated people. CDC officials feared that moving faster would encourage the spread of new, highly transmissible variants of Covid-19 that would reverse the country’s progress toward ending the pandemic.
“I guess more and more real-world data has emerged that has guided the CDC in decision-making, especially in these recent areas,” said John Moore, a virologist and professor of microbiology and immunology at Weill Cornell Medicine. “There will be confusion in the next few weeks. Everyone needs to develop their own comfort zone with the guide. “
Health officials and experts across the country have abandoned the new CDC board, saying the agency’s recommendations will be difficult to implement and enforce by state and local officials.
“I expect the CDC to recommend to local and state public health services that when the scope of your vaccination is at this level, when your cases are at this level … then you can recommend at the local level to remove the requirements for masks for vaccinated people Said Celine Gounder, an infectious disease expert at New York University and a former Biden Covid-19 Transitional Council Adviser. “That didn’t happen in this case.”
A senior health official working on the vaccine said the agency did not have the capacity or means to develop local public health guidelines and that local staff needed to find ways to target their communities.
“The CDC just can’t win. First they are told that they are too careful, too careful with masks and travel, “a senior HHS official told POLITICO. “Then they recommend getting rid of masks for vaccinated people and are focused on doing too much too early. I mean, what is this? I think what is clear is that there is now a much clearer process for these things. “