A new report from the conservative Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) peels back the curtain on just how much the nation’s preeminent public health institutions have pivoted to controlling lifestyle choices over preventing infectious diseases such as COVID-19.
CEI Senior Fellow Michelle Minton found that a vast majority of congressional funding allotted to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Food and Drug Administration (FDA) went towards reinforcing public behavior while only a fraction of the agency budgets were targeted towards fighting emerging pathogens that have given rise to the public health pandemic today.
Of the roughly $7 billion granted to the CDC in 2019, just less than half went to infectious disease efforts where most went to fight existing viruses. More than $600 million focused on animal-related diseases, only a third of which was directed towards emerging threats. In other words, CDC resources for rising pathogens such as the novel Wuhan coronavirus, which is supposed to strike at the core of the CDC’s mission, received far less concern than hyping a moral panic around vaping.
“As its original name, the Communicable Disease Center implies, the initial purpose of the CDC was to assist the states in the control of infectious disease,” Minton wrote, noting that it came to be from efforts to combat malaria. Since its creation in 1946 Minton wrote, he CDC’s focus has expanded “to include conditions and diseases not caused by the spread of dangerous pathogens, but by lifestyle factors such as heart disease, cancer, and diabetes.”
The FDA meanwhile, is no less guilty. With a broader role to play in protecting the nation’s public health, the agency’s role in perpetuating healthy lifestyle choices such as maintaining a healthy diet and proper nutrition is far more justifiable. Alas, its aggressive action propelling hysteria surrounding electronic cigarettes led by former administrator Scott Gottlieb remains far off from the FDA’s goals or public interest and is killing smokers. Electronic cigarette use is the single most effective form of smoking cessation offering a lifeline to those trapped under addiction to combustible cigarettes which is the leading cause of preventable death in the United States.
“A strong case can be made for the value of spending taxpayer funds to monitor and minimize non-infectious health threats,” Minton made clear. “Not only can this investment materially benefit the health of the public, but surveillance could result in better resource allocation, while research could increase the effectiveness of government policies.”
Minton points out however, that the National Institutes of Health (NIH) already spends much of its $40 billion budget on “nearly all of the non-infectious disease projects taken up by the CDC.
By now its been well-established that the government’s initial response to the pandemic has been a disaster. While the FDA was conducting raids on e-cigarette manufacturers, the nation sat vulnerable to a pandemic. Testing capacity was woefully inadequate and the federal agencies actively prevented states and universities from pursuing tests of their own. To make matters worse, initial tests by the CDC didn’t work, and the public was mislead on whether preventative measures like masks would work to slow the spread.