Trump administration assumed everyone was going to get Covid, says former FDA chief

Former official admits US planning failures and that former president’s officials were reconciled to uncontrolled spread

Gino Spocchia
Monday 27 September 2021 19:39 BST
Trump administration assumed everyone would get COVID, reveals interview with ex-FDA head
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Scott Gottlieb, the former head of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), has said that Donald Trump’s White House thought everybody was going to be infected with Covid and that there was almost no way to contain it.

During a discussion about preparedness for future pandemics, Dr Gottlieb said on Monday he was surprised by the way officials in former President Trump’s administration fought off many public health measures last year.

He told CNN host Pamela Brown that many figures in the former White House were even reluctant to fight and contain Covid because they assumed everybody would catch the disease eventually.

The former FDA head, whose book Uncontrolled Spread was released last week, said that became apparent when existing White House plans for dealing with pandemics failed with Covid.

“We prepared for a pandemic,” said Dr Gottlieb, “we just prepared for the wrong pandemic and I think what we found was [that] a lot of the preparation we had put in place for a flu we’rent really applicable to a coronavirus.”

“And even if so far in they might have been applicable to a coronavirus, they we’rent very good.”

Attacking the inconsistency of Mr Trump’s leadership throughout the pandemic, Dr Gottlieb continued by saying that by November 2020 “a view had taken hold in the White House that uncontrolled spread was inevitable and we weren’t going to be able to do much to mitigate it”.

A “lack of cooperation” between agencies such as the FDA and the CDC, Dr Gottlieb admitted, were also to blame for the way in which the US failed to adequately respond to – and control – Covid.

Ms Brown told Dr Gottlieb that she also remembered “one White House official cavalierly saying to me, and this was around the time that then-president Trump was pushing for schools to reopen ... [because] it's going to spread wildly, and there's no way to contain it.”

“It stuck with me how casual they were about that,” the CNN host told Dr Gottleib, “as you just pointed out as one of the issues you didn't believe was actually true."

Although it was not the first time the former FDA head has spoken out against Mr Trump’s handling of Covid, the interview provided further insight into how US officials failed to anticipate a global pandemic that would render their pandemic planning useless, and restrict access to crucial supplies such as nasal swabs.

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