Investigation launched into political interference in CDC reports on coronavirus

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — An investigation begins today into a bombshell report claiming White House appointees altered information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Vanderbilt doctor and infectious disease expert, William Schaffner, has strong feelings about claims, first reported by Politico, that Trump officials influenced the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality weekly report.

“That is a very totally bad idea,” Dr. Schaffner said. “Having any sort of political influence into those reports really erodes their integrity and is a very, very, disappointing development if true.”

Dr. Schaffner, a member of the publication’s editorial board, explains the reports are intended to inform medical professionals across the county and around the world about public health issues in the United States.

“These kinds of political changes, edits, or spins we might call them could actually be dangerous,” Dr. Schaffner said. “They could change potentially the thrust and the essential important recommendations that the CDC is putting out.”

Politico claims politically appointed members of the Department of Health and Human Services were allowed to review, change, and delay reports authored by the CDC if the findings didn’t align with President Trump’s public statements about the pandemic.

“Here we are as a nation trying to respond to COVID,” Dr. Schaffner said. “And we depend on these two institutions, the FDA and the CDC, which were established to protect the health of the United States’ population being comprised by political influence.”

In order to ensure the integrity of the publication stays intact, Dr. Schaffner believes several things must happen.

“I know the editorial board is communicating amongst itself, and I think we all need to push back and remind politicians that they do best, actually not only for the county but for themselves, if they support public health rather than try to spin it,” Dr. Schaffner said.

Members of the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis sent a letter to the HHS and CDC requesting transcribed interviews and documents regarding the alleged efforts.

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