Coronavirus (609) (Lack of) evidence-informed policymaking

16 May, 2020

On HIFA we have previously explored country-level health policymaking, presented at the Global Evidence Summit in Cape Twon, September 2017:

Although we recognised that evidence is only one of the many factors that influence policymaking, few of us would have predicted the disregard for evidence that we are seeing in many countries during this coronavirus pandemic.

The lead editorial in today's print issue of The Lancet demonstrates a serious disconnect between the US federal government and the CDC. The newly formed Africa CDC must be watching with increasing concern.

CITATION: Editorial - volume 395, issue 10236, p1521, may 16, 2020

Reviving the US CDC

The Lancet

Published: May 16, 2020DOI:


The COVID-19 pandemic continues to worsen in the USA with 1·3 million cases and an estimated death toll of 80 684 as of May 12...

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the flagship agency for the nation's public health, has seen its role minimised and become an ineffective and nominal adviser in the response to contain the spread of the virus. The strained relationship between the CDC and the federal government was further laid bare when, according to The Washington Post, Deborah Birx, the head of the US COVID-19 Task Force and a former director of the CDC's Global HIV/AIDS Division, cast doubt on the CDC's COVID-19 mortality and case data by reportedly saying: “There is nothing from the CDC that I can trust”...

In a press conference on Feb 25, Nancy Messonnier, director of the CDC's National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, warned US citizens to prepare for major disruptions to movement and everyday life. Messonnier subsequently no longer appeared at White House briefings on COVID-19. More recently, the Trump administration has questioned guidelines that the CDC has provided. These actions have undermined the CDC's leadership and its work during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Trump administration's further erosion of the CDC will harm global cooperation in science and public health...


Best wishes, Neil

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HIFA profile: Neil Pakenham-Walsh is coordinator of the HIFA global health campaign (Healthcare Information For All - ), a global community with 20,000 members in 180 countries, interacting on six global forums in four languages in collaboration with WHO. Twitter: @hifa_org FB: