The nation’s top federal agencies tasked with protecting public health have been increasingly distracted over recent years by dubious priorities having nothing to do with tracking and preventing infectious disease outbreaks such as COVID-19 or, a few years prior, SARS.
Only a tiny fraction of the budget for the Centers for Disease Control or the Food and Drug Administration was spent on fighting infectious diseases.
“The CDC devolved into an agency incapable of adequately addressing the serious threat posed by infectious disease, particularly novel diseases for which there is little information about risk, spread, and treatment,” said Michelle Minton, CEI senior fellow and author of the new report.
“Congress must force the CDC to narrow its activities and redirect or eliminate funding for non-infectious disease projects, and recommit its attention to the issue for which it was founded: infectious disease,” Minton explained.
The report documents how the CDC’s original mission – to assist states in the control of infectious disease as a result of post-war problems controlling malaria in southern states – has lost a focus on fighting infectious diseases and instead become consumed with lifestyle-related habits that cause heart disease, cancer, and diabetes. Minton urges Congress to exercise more oversight over CDC priorities and money spent.
Facts about funding:
- In 2019, Congress authorized a budget of $7.3 billion for CDC.
- Roughly $2.5 billion to $3 billion of that was supposed to go toward fighting and treating infectious disease, but most of that was earmarked for existing pathogens — known threats.
- Just over $600 million was set aside for emerging and zoonotic (animal-caused/related) infectious diseases. Of that, only $185 million went toward the emerging type — like COVID-19 — with the rest going to efforts at controlling known diseases, such as Lyme, Prion and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.
View the report: Narrow the Focus of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Food and Drug Administration by Michelle Minton