CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky has resigned her post as the head of America’s top public health agency. In honour of her resignation, it’s worth revisiting some of her most obvious disasters. There’s a nearly endless number of possibilities to make Walensky’s list of shame. But here are a few favourites.
Vaccinated People Don’t Get Sick
Soon after taking over her post, she told the public that vaccinated people were not only protected from serious illness and death, but all infection.
“Our data from the CDC today suggests that vaccinated people do not carry the virus, don’t get sick, and that it’s not just in the clinical trials, but it’s also in real-world data,” she claimed.
There may never be a more inaccurate statement issued by a public official on any issue. It was utterly incomprehensible at the time, totally unsupported and designed to provoke mandates.
Masks Are Effective
One of the most pernicious, inexcusable mistakes was repeatedly telling the public that masks were protective at preventing transmission or infection.
That delusional, evidence-free assertion caused immense harm, leading to states like California issuing pointless, useless mask mandates throughout 2021 and into 2022.
Even more infuriating was that she told Congress that CDC guidance on masking would essentially never change.
That’s correct, no matter what the evidence showed, no matter how many studies disproved masking, Walensky would never stop recommending masks.
Somehow even that undersells just how bad that statement was. Her remarks were said in the context of masking kids, meaning the agency would never be revisiting its guidance on school masking.
Not to mention her desperate defence of masking on planes, which continued even after it was abundantly clear that maskless travel was completely safe.
She also, before Congress, inaccurately dismissed the Cochrane Review on masking to prevent the spread of respiratory viruses.
That type of arrogance, hubris and commitment to inaccuracy was a consistent feature of Walensky’s tenure.
Risks of Myocarditis
All of Walensky’s mistakes were harmful and dangerously misleading. But one of the most indefensible was her efforts to downplay concerns over post-vaccine myocarditis.
Following discovery of the side-effect, countries like Sweden worked to limit distribution of the mRNA vaccines to younger people and children. Many experts also recommended potentially changing guidance to suggest just one dose, with research saying complications could be exacerbated by the second dose.
So what did the CDC do in response? Absolutely nothing, of course!
Even after the agency finally acknowledged the risk of myocarditis to young people, Walensky still urged parents to vaccinate kids regardless.
Her endless promotion and refusal to properly frame risks and benefits led to the rapid proliferation of vaccine mandates for young, healthy individuals.
Places like California and Washington, D.C. moved to enforce mandates to attend school, in defiance of scientific evidence and in support of Walensky’s fact-free claims.
Colleges jumped on the bandwagon as well, with university after university falling in line with CDC recommendations.
Turns out, further research showed that dangerous side effects were potentially not as uncommon as the agency claimed.
Great work, Walensky!
How Much Worse Will the CDC Get?
These are just a few of her more obvious mistakes.
Her agency also promoted shoddy study after shoddy study. One graphic put out by the CDC even highlighted a result designed to promote masks that referenced a result that was not statistically significant.
That’s an inexcusable abdication of scientific responsibility. Presenting as meaningful results that don’t reach the threshold of significance is irresponsible misinformation.
But the concerning thing about her resignation is the possibility that her replacement may be even worse.
The Biden administration has repeatedly shown its incompetence. Through their efforts to mandate vaccines for private employers, continue the ban on unvaccinated travellers, hiring Walensky in the first place, and relentless promotion of masks, officials have got virtually every major decision wrong.
Why would they stop now?
Robert Redfield, the former head of the CDC, famously claimed that masks would be more protective than vaccines. And yet his replacement was somehow significantly worse.
Just imagine how much worse it could get in the post-Walensky era.
Even as the pandemic fades, the CDC and the administration have now realised they hold immense power over Americans’ daily lives.
Huge numbers of individuals, influential corporations and administrators will outsource their decision-making to CDC recommendations.
No matter how ineffective people like Walensky have proven to be.
Ian Miller is the author of Unmasked: The Global Failure of Covid Mask Mandates. He writes a Substack newsletter, where this article first appeared.
Stop Press: Carl Heneghan and Tom Jefferson write about Dr. Walensky’s misleading assertions to Congress about the Cochrane review, of which Jefferson was a lead author.