Top CDC official warns US not ready for next pandemic
The No. 2 official at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is warning that without consistent, long-term funding for public health, the U.S. won’t be any better prepared for the next pandemic.
In an interview with The Hill, Anne Schuchat, the CDC’s principal deputy director, said the U.S. was not prepared for COVID-19 due to years of inadequate investment in public health infrastructure.
“I think the critical learning about how to do better next time is the need to greatly invest in public health, and not just respond to emergencies,” Schuchat said. “This is a big job, and it can’t be like Ebola or H1N1 where there’s emergency funding and then everything goes away. This needs to be sustained, or we will be exactly where we were last year.”
Schuchat is set to retire this month after 33 years at the agency. She doesn’t have the same public profile as Anthony Fauci, but she has spent her career in the upper echelons of America’s public health agency, including six years as principal deputy director.
Trump years: During her tenure at the CDC, Schuchat also served two short stints as acting director during the Trump administration; once at the start, and then again after Trump nominee Brenda Fitzgerald resigned after seven months due to a scandal about purchasing tobacco stocks.
Even when a permanent CDC director was confirmed, Schuchat faced criticism from the former president and his allies over her warnings about the potential for a global pandemic as the coronavirus began spreading last year. She described it as “a whole other level” of pressure, without elaborating on specifics.