Biden administration plans to upgrade pandemic response office

Traffic, first reported by The Washington Postcomes more than two years after the CDC’s first errors in Covid-19 testing, and as issues with case tracking and treatment data remain.

“Even at the beginning of the pandemic, there were problems with CDC coordination around the world. [Health and Human Services] Department,” said former office director Robert Kadlec, explain why the reorganization is desirable. “They felt like the main guys.”

Kadlec filled that role during the Trump administration, when early clashes and dire pandemic warnings from then-CDC officials like Nancy Messonnier brought the agency into collision with the White House.

A person familiar with the internal discussions told POLITICO that O’Connell approached HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra about the reorganization a few months ago. The man insisted that it wasn’t CDC’s shortcomings, but ASPR’s improved staffing.

But others have criticized the reorganization as a misguided effort that would undermine the CDC and its efforts to strengthen its response network.

“It’s unfortunate. This suggests that ASPR performed well during the pandemic, which it did not,” Trump-era FDA commissioner Scott Gottlieb tweeted. “The correct but more complex approach is CDC reform; what should be [the] the tip of the spear in the fight against the pandemic.”

Kadlek said the change will strengthen O’Connell’s ability to staff key offices and expand the National Disaster Medical Assistance System, the Department of HHS and Veterans Affairs network to deploy trained professionals during emergencies such as the coronavirus pandemic. He claimed that when the office was originally created in 2006 – in response to Hurricane Katrina – federal officials discussed making it an independent operating unit.

The Trump administration orchestrated Operation Warp Speed, a partnership between HHS and the Pentagon, to accelerate the development of a vaccine, treatment, and tests against Covid-19, due in part to limitations on the Assistant Secretary of State for Preparedness and Response’s ability to quickly recruit and catalyze funding decisions through the biomedical service. The Advanced Research and Development Authority, or BARDA, Kadlec said.