Three unnamed sources from the U.S. Centers from Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have accused Trump-appointed political officials in the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) of pressuring the CDC to change its reports on COVID-19 to conform with Republican President Donald Trump’s public statements on the epidemic.
According to a report from Politico, the political pressure began after April when Michael Caputo, “a former Trump campaign official with no medical or scientific background,” was appointed as the HHS spokesperson.
Sources from the CDC accused HHS appointees of asking the CDC to change its past CDC Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Reports (MMWR) to say that they “wrongly inflated” the risks of COVID-19 and that infected Americans were likely infected because of their own behavior.
In an August 8 email to CDC Director Robert Redfield and other officials, Caputo himself accused CDC scientists of trying to use the reports to “hurt the President.”
HHS appointee Paul Alexander allegedly wrote to Redfield, “The CDC to me appears to be writing hit pieces on the administration.” He told Redfield to change two reports discussing the risks of children spreading coronavirus while Trump was urging schools to reopen.
Alexander and Caputo also told the CDC to stop all future MMWRs until Alexander could make line edits to ensure that the reports are “fair and balanced and ‘complete’” before they’re released to the public.
“The reports must be read by someone outside of CDC like myself, and we cannot allow the reporting to go on as it has been, for it is outrageous. Its lunacy,” Alexander allegedly said.
The CDC sources also accused the HHS of suppressing reports on the ineffectiveness of hydroxychloroquine, an anti-malaria medication touted by Trump as a possible COVID-19 treatment even though it can dangerously exacerbate underlying issues. A CDC report on the drug came out a month late.
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