The United States is not prepared for the next pandemic because parts of the public health systems are still reliant on “old fax machines,” said outgoing director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Rochelle Walensky in an article published on Tuesday.
“As the leader of the CDC, I had the privilege of a unique perspective, seeing public health in the United States for both its challenges and its gifts. And yet the agency has been sidelined, chastened by early missteps with COVID and battered by persistent scrutiny,” she wrote in the opinion published in The New York Times.
Walensky will depart the CDC at the end of June.
“The job of public health is to strike an appropriate balance between protecting the health of all those who live in the United States while minimizing the disruption to the normal functioning of society,” she wrote.
Decades of underinvestment in public health rendered the United States ill prepared for a global pandemic, she wrote.
To this day some of the U.S. public health data systems are reliant on “old fax machines,” Walensky wrote.
National laboratories lack both state-of-the-art equipment and skilled bench scientists to work them. During the pandemic, the answer to these prevailing problems was a rapid infusion of money — resources that were swiftly withdrawn, Walensky wrote in the article.