Washington: A US House panel on the Covid-19 pandemic has accused President Donald Trump’s administration of politically meddling with the country’s response to the ongoing health crisis.
“I am deeply concerned that the Trump administration’s political meddling with the nation’s Covid-19 response has put American lives at greater risk,” Xinhua news agency quotedJames Clyburn, chairman of the House Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis, as saying in a letter sent to top health officials on Thursday.
Clyburn also said the panel is concerned that some officials “may have taken steps to conceal and destroy evidence of this dangerous conduct”, while urging cooperation in the investigation of the allegations.
The letter, addressed to Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) Alex Azar and Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Robert Redfield, came days after the sub-committee’s interview with Charlotte Kent, chief of the Scientific Publications Branch and Editor-in-Chief of the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report at CDC.
During the interview, Kent stated that she was instructed to delete an August 8 email sent by then-HHS senior advisor Paul Alexander to her, Redfield, and HHS Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs Michael Caputo, adding that she was informed that the direction to delete the email came from Redfield.
The email from Alexander demanded that CDC insert new language in a previously published scientific report on coronavirus risks to children or “pull it down and stop all reports immediately”, according to Clyburn’s letter.
“I was instructed to delete the email,” Kent said in the interview.
“I went to look for it after I had been told to delete it, and it was already gone.”
When asked who deleted the email, she replied: “I have no idea… I considered this to be very unusual.”
Federal law requires the heads of federal agencies to preserve records, including emails.
Neither Azar nor Redfield has responded to the allegations.
In its latest update on Friday morning, the Johns Hopkins University.revealed that the country’s death toll has increased to 292,001, while the caseload stood at 15,599,122.
With the two new tallies, the US remains the hardest-hit nation by the pandemic, with the world’s highest caseload and death toll, accounting for more than 18 per cent of the global fatalities.
Addressing an event on Thursday, the CDC’s Redfield said: “We are in the timeframe now that probably for the next 60 to 90 days we’re going to have more deaths per day than we had at 9/11 or we had at Pearl Harbor.”