Coronavirus: CDC 'withholding' potentially lifesaving information from doctors

'Inexplicable and inappropriate' failure to share information condemned

Rory Sullivan
Monday 02 March 2020 13:01 GMT
Michael Bloomberg's coronavirus address

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has been criticised for failing to pass on information which doctors say might help to save the lives of American coronavirus patients.

The CDC, a national public health institute, provides information to physicians on how to manage outbreaks including coronavirus.

The federal agency has so far only released one detailed case study of a US patient who recovered from the illness, outlining the treatments given to him and his response to them.

Although the CDC has been given clinical information on other US coronavirus patients, it has not yet shared it with doctors around the country.

The CDC has been contacted for comment.

Doctors say they want to learn from the findings of fellow medics who have treated coronavirus patients.

Irwin Redlener, director of the National Center for Disaster Preparedness at Columbia University, told CNN: "It's a medical truism that it's absolutely essential that physicians with experience with a particular condition disseminate information to others.”

He added that he believed it was “inexplicable and inappropriate” not to share such information.

Similarly, Paul Offit, an infectious disease doctor at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, said: "If you're a doctor dealing with this in the emergency department, you want to know what we've already seen in the United States.”

The CDC does offer further advice on its website to doctors on how to best treat coronavirus patients, but this guidance is largely based on Chinese research.

Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Diseases, is among those who think that the CDC will soon publish the reports.

The one report published so far by the CDC concerns a 35-year-old man in Washington state and includes a list of his symptoms and x-ray images of his lungs at different stages of the illness.

Responding to the criticism of the CDC, campaign journalist Brian Beutler tweeted: “CDC is withholding potentially lifesaving treatment information from U.S. doctors treating coronavirus patients as some of said patients die.”

This comes as the CDC has also been condemned for allegedly releasing a patient from quarantine from the Texas Center for Infectious Disease, who later tested positive for the illness.

Ron Nirenberg, Mayor of San Antonio, said on Sunday: “The fact that the CDC allowed the public to be exposed to a patient with a positive COVID-19 reading is unacceptable.”

The US has so far confirmed that two patients have died in the country from COVID-19.

The illness has now spread to every permanently-inhabited continent amid fears that coronavirus will become a pandemic.

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