MOSCOW (Sputnik) - US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) political appointees have attempted to interfere with the country’s Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) over the publication of its COVID-19 mortality updates, The Washington Post reports, citing lead HHS spokesman Michael Caputo.
In an exclusive on Friday, Politico reported that senior HHS officials had openly complained in emails sent to CDC Director Robert Redfield that the agency's reports would undermine President Donald Trump’s comments that the US had the pandemic under control.
Speaking to The Washington Post, Caputo confirmed the authenticity of these emails, adding that medical reports on the pandemic, particularly in an election year, are not merely a scientific matter.
"But in an election year, and in the time of COVID-19, it’s no longer unanimously scientific. There’s political content", Caputo was quoted by the newspaper as saying.
HHS adviser Paul Alexander, an assistant professor at Canada’s McMaster University, has been at the forefront of the department’s clash with the CDC. However, Caputo said that the CDC had the opportunity to reject Alexander’s recommendations.
"[Alexander] gets into productive discussions with the scientists who are open to criticism. They're free to reject them", Caputo said, as quoted by the newspaper.
In July, the Trump administration blocked Redfield from testifying at a hearing before a US House Education and Labour Committee to discuss steps to reopen the country’s schools amid the pandemic. The president had previously criticised the CDC’s school reopening guidelines as being too tough.