Coronavirus (1429) Axios news: The Biden administration has a COVID credibility crisis

10 January, 2022

This news item demonstrates that even a high-income country such as the US has difficulty in delivering effective COVID-19 health communications to the general population. Part of the problem is the evolving science, and part is the evolving virus, with new variants having different characteristics to previous ones. Below is the opening section of the article (with thanks to Global Health News). Full text here:

It would be interesting to hear whether and how the general population is listening to public health communications in other countries.


A series of messaging missteps is threatening the credibility of federal health agencies, and critics say the White House isn’t doing enough to manage the fallout.

Why it matters: While much of the unvaccinated population is unlikely to be persuaded by any messenger, large swaths of the public are still receptive to expert guidance, but federal health agencies, particularly the CDC, may be squandering their credibility with this population.

"The administration in general has lost the confidence of people who would be their natural supporters," said Celine Gounder, an infectious disease expert and former Biden administration advisory board member.

State of play: Months of convoluted guidance hit a breaking point over the winter holiday, when the CDC became a viral internet meme amongst frustrated Americans who could no longer take the agency's guidance seriously.

The CDC's new guidance on how long COVID patients should remain in isolation was mocked by thousands of internet meme-makers. The CDC responded by saying the changing guidelines are motivated by “fast-moving science.”

"It's never good to be the butt of jokes," former CDC director Tom Frieden said in an interview.


Neil Pakenham-Walsh, HIFA Coordinator,

With thanks to the Global Health Academy at the University of Edinburgh for supporting HIFA discussions on COVID-19.