Bioethics and medical journals are growing increasingly ideological. When dealing with cultural, ethical, or political issues, they generally push progressive agendas; deploying health policies to effect radical social change, opposing medical-conscience rights, supporting health-care rationing schemes, disdaining the sanctity-of-life ethic in favor of a “quality of life” outlook, and promoting technocratic control by experts.
The Lancet is one such publication. It comes out of the U.K. (since 1823) and touts itself as an international medical journal. And now — making many headlines — it has published an editorial essentially ordering Americans to kick Donald Trump out of office in the upcoming election because his administration has supposedly not managed the COVID-19 crisis well, is anti-CDC, and too partisan. From “Reviving the US CDC:”
The COVID-19 pandemic continues to worsen in the USA with 1.3 million cases and an estimated death toll of 80 684 as of May 12. States that were initially the hardest hit, such as New York and New Jersey, have decelerated the rate of infections and deaths after the implementation of 2 months of lockdown.
However, the emergence of new outbreaks in Minnesota, where the stay-at-home order is set to lift in mid-May, and Iowa, which did not enact any restrictions on movement or commerce, has prompted pointed new questions about the inconsistent and incoherent national response to the COVID-19 crisis.
Deploying varying approaches in different parts of the country based on differing local circumstances is known in the U.S. as federalism, not that a U.K. medical publication — where centralized control of health-care is ironfisted — would begin to understand the concept.
And note, the editorial somehow fails to mention that per capita, the U.S. has the third-lowest mortality rates of the 10 countries most affected from COVID, at 27.13 per 100,000 population. (Iran is best overall — which we can’t trust — and Germany is second at 9.57.) Meanwhile, The Lancet’s home country is the third worst at a whopping 51.96 per 100,000 — almost twice as bad as ours. Our case-fatality percentage is 6.0 percent. The U.K.’s is more than double, at 14.3 percent. (Johns Hopkins data as of May 16.)
But rather than look at the U.K.’s failings, the editorialists attack Trump:
The Administration is obsessed with magic bullets—vaccines, new medicines, or a hope that the virus will simply disappear. But only a steadfast reliance on basic public health principles, like test, trace, and isolate, will see the emergency brought to an end, and this requires an effective national public health agency. The CDC needs a director who can provide leadership without the threat of being silenced and who has the technical capacity to lead today’s complicated effort.
The Trump administration’s further erosion of the CDC will harm global cooperation in science and public health, as it is trying to do by defunding WHO. A strong CDC is needed to respond to public health threats, both domestic and international, and to help prevent the next inevitable pandemic. Americans must put a president in the White House come January, 2021, who will understand that public health should not be guided by partisan politics.
Oh, we “must,” must we?
After being somewhat slow to comprehend the urgency of the emergency — wasn’t everyone? — Trump, I think, has generally done a good job managing the crisis, particularly in forging a robust public–private-sector partnership to produce bounties of ventilators, PPE, testing (after a sputtering CDC start), and his most recent announced effort to spur the development of treatments and vaccines at “warp speed.” His effort to keep the “cure” from becoming “worse than the disease” is also spot-on.
For some reason, The Lancet thinks that is bad. But then, its editorialists aren’t going to become suicidal because they have been financially wiped out.
Which brings up another important point: The editorial had kind words for New York and New Jersey because of the lockdown. Yet those were the very states that promulgated the worst public policies in this crisis by compelling nursing homes to accept COVID-infected patients, unleashing a catastrophic viral tsunami overwhelming long-term care facilities. It took many weeks and thousands of needless deaths for these scandalous orders to be revoked. Trump had nothing to do with that debacle.
Reasonable people can have different opinions on the president’s performance in this crisis, and that will almost surely be the deciding factor in the upcoming election. But that is for us to decide, not the “experts” at The Lancet. Physician, heal thyself.