The Centers for Disease Control CDC has begun a sweeping agency review that will examine the institution's response to the COVID-19 pandemic as well as its ongoing efforts to manage the outbreak.
More than a dozen people close to the CDC told CNN that the agency needs major changes if it wants to respond effectively and quickly next time a pandemic occurs.
Michael Lewis, the New York Times best-selling author, agrees. Lewis, whose book Premonition chronicles the experts who perceived the threat posed by the COVID pandemic in its early days, sharply criticized the CDC in a new interview with Yahoo Finance.
He said the CDC primarily monitors outbreaks rather than controls them. Political influence on the agency often prevents decisive action, he noted.
The CDC, as currently structured, showed that it wasn't the Centers for Disease Control, but it's more like centers for disease observation and reporting, Lewis said.
He said they've sort of gotten out of the business of controlling disease. It is political, it's unpleasant. He said it requires a real kind of leadership that they have a hard time providing as a politicized institution.
The CDC has received criticism from across the political spectrum for some aspects of its COVID 19 response. The guideline was re-imposed two months later after the agency lifted an indoor mask mandate. The agency took almost two years to figure out that N 95 masks prevent COVID 19 more effectively than cloth masks.
Scientific research moves slowly because it requires lengthy studies, and agency guidelines have shifted appropriately in response to a volatile pandemic, according to the defenders of the CDC.
In May, President Joe Biden proposed an $8.7 billion budget allotted to the CDC for fiscal year 2022, which was the largest funding increase at the agency in nearly 20 years, according to CNBC. The Biden administration budget proposal for 2023, released last month, would boost the agency's budget to $10.6 billion.
Lewis questioned whether the Biden administration had grappled with the deep issue of the CDC's ineffectiveness.
You don't want to give them $8 billion and say, just do more of the same, Lewis said.
Despite a critical view of the CDC, Lewis praised a program at the agency that would help predict the timing and location of future disease outbreaks.
Inside the CDC, they're trying to build a structure that we should have had long ago, which is kind of like a National Weather Service for disease, he said. We should have better predictability. He said that it would go a long way to stopping the spread of pandemics before they happened.