“Early on in this crisis, the CDC, which really had the most trusted brand around the world in this space — really let the country down with the testing. Not only did they keep the testing within the bureaucracy they had a bad test and that set us back,” Navarro said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”
Navarro’s critique is the most critical an administration official has been willing to be on-the-record in blaming the CDC for the faulty testing at the beginning of the coronavirus outbreak
in the United States.
A spokesman for the CDC declined to comment when reached by CNN.
Contamination in manufacturing the CDC test for the coronavirus caused weeks of delays that slowed the US response to the pandemic, multiple health officials told CNN last month. The problem stemmed in part from the CDC not adhering to its own protocols, according to a US Food and Drug Administration spokesperson.
The government has never fully explained what stalled the roll out of a crucial test needed to begin measuring the extent of the spread of Covid-19. It would take until the end of February to correct.
Navarro’s comments on Sunday come as CNN reported that tensions are rising between the White House and the nation’s leading public health agency
. In interviews, senior administration officials in Washington as well as top officials at the CDC in Atlanta described a growing sense of mistrust and animosity between the White House and CDC over how quickly the US should reopen and how the government tracks data on the virus.
In particular, Dr. Deborah Birx
, coordinator for the President’s coronavirus task force, has become increasingly critical of the CDC, making clear in recent meetings that she is more than frustrated with the agency, according to two senior administration officials. Specifically, Birx believes the way the CDC gathers data on the coronavirus is antiquated, causing inaccurate and delayed numbers on both virus cases and deaths.
Birx has expressed her agitation during recent task force meetings, where at least one conversation between her and CDC Director Robert Redfield has grown heated, according to a source close to the task force.
Birx and Redfield have known each other for decades, due to their work on HIV research together. And while Birx defended Redfield to their peers earlier this year over the CDC’s faulty test kits
, her tone toward him has shifted dramatically in recent weeks, according to multiple officials and a source close to the task force.