Centers for Disease Control and Prevention chief Rochelle Walensky just can’t stop spreading gloom and doom — needlessly. The White House needs to find a different voice for public health pronouncements.
Take Tuesday’s warning that COVID may be “just a few mutations” away from being able “to evade our vaccine in terms of how it protects us from severe disease and death.”
Fine, she prefaced that by saying it’s “the largest concern” of “we in public health and sciences” — but it should have come with the key context that this doomsday scenario is highly unlikely.
Yes, viral mutations tend to make a bug more contagious, but they also tend to make it less deadly because it’s contra-survival for a virus to kill its host. That’s why today’s flu viruses are far less of an issue than their ancestor of 1918, which took tens of millions of lives over two years, as we noted Thursday.
People in the Pentagon worry about global thermonuclear war, but they don’t highlight those concerns to the public because it’s an extreme possibility. [Also they don’t stand to profit from reminding us they are bringing it closer. They certainly go on about other mythical threats plenty.] Her message should have centered overwhelmingly on her reassuring words on Delta: “These vaccines operate really well in protecting us from severe disease and death.”
Then there’s the CDC’s foolish about-face on masking for the vaccinated: Even if it were better qualified, the message all too many Americans get is that the agency’s advisories are arbitrary and senseless — or, worse, that it has lost confidence in the vaccines to protect us right now.
It’s not that her science is wrong, but that she has no understanding of how to communicate to the general public — or that, as is the habit of public health bureaucracies, her only concern is that something awful will happen without her having covered her butt in advance.
This pandemic is over; loose talk about remote possibilities is the last thing the public needs as it strives to get back to work, to school and to normal socializing.
The White House needs to find an expert who’s also competent at communication. Walensky’s already disqualified herself.
Source: New York Post