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Redfield Offers Hope: CDC Director says, if everyone wore a mask, the COVID-19 surge could be under control in 4-8 weeks: Medscape Medical News, ABC

2020-07-15

Robert R. Redfield photo courtesy Wikipedia

Medscape reports on July 15 (see also ABC on July 14):  In an online interview with the Journal of the American Medical Association on Tuesday, July 14, Robert R. Redfield, Centers for Disease Control (CDC) director, stated that the situation in the US (a currently out of control pandemic of COVID-19) could be brought under control within 4-8 weeks if “everyone wore a mask.”  He also said, “I am glad to see the president and vice president wear a mask. Clearly, in their situation they could easily justify they don’t need to … but we need for them to set the example…”

That’s good, but consider the source.  Dr. Redfield is another administration figure who got his post by being 1) highly religious; 2) a well-known figure among conservative activists.  He has little experience running agencies and is over his head as director of CDC (although he apparently really wanted the job.)  He is careful to avoid saying anything that might be seen as critical of his boss.  He won’t be the source of scandal, but he won’t be a leader, either.

This article on CNN from June 4  (see this also for an even more jaundiced view) tells a lot more about who Dr. Redfield is and where his loyalties lie.  He was described by former colleagues as a “bad leader” who put politics before science.  He was also described as a loyalist to authority, making him perfect for this administration– which values loyalty above all else.  Most important, he is close to conservative evangelists who think AIDS is a judgement from God.

Never mind that he worked on AIDS research for many years, first in the Army (he retired as a full colonel in 1996) and then in the private sector as a co-founder and former co-director of the Institute for Human Virology at the University of Maryland School of Medicine (which he started in 1996 with Robert Gallo, who is the current director.)   Robert Gallo is famous (and notorious) in AIDS circles as the co-discoverer of HIV in 1984 (he admitted in 1991 that he had been sent a sample of HIV by the lab that first described it in 1983– and Gallo was left out of the Nobel Prize awarded in 2008 for the discovery of HIV.)

While he worked as a researcher on AIDS 1) Dr. Redfield promoted abstinence as a preventive measure for AIDS; 2) he derogated the importance of wearing a condom and “safe sex.”  He clearly did this because of his religious views, in which abstinence holds a high place.

In 1992, Dr. Redfield deceptively edited early data about a vaccine for AIDS (based on the HIV gp160 protein) to make it look like it might be effective.  This resulted in years of wasted studies trying to show this vaccine to be effective.  It was not.  That deception in the early stages of evaluation for the vaccine led to an Army investigation for Dr. Redfield.  The investigation was dropped, but not before it left a bad taste in the mouths of many other AIDS researchers.

No other vaccine has emerged for AIDS, in part because the resources wasted on study of his vaccine left people thinking no vaccine could work.  Drugs have come out that are highly effective for “pre-exposure prophylaxis.”  The profits to be had from drugs to prevent AIDS far outstrip any potential profit from a vaccine.

 A decision was made somewhere in the administration to bypass the CDC in reporting hospital data and to send the data directly and in secret to Health and Human Services “HealthProtect” where it can be manipulated before being selectively released to the public.  This decision has only magnified the confusion around the data.  Dr. Redfield was unable to prevent this knee-capping of the CDC and he said nothing about it in his interview yesterday– but today he says he supports it.

He did claim yesterday that the recent surge in virus infections down south was due to people from the Northeast vacationing down south over Memorial Day.  This is to counter the widespread accusation that premature re-opening of southern states led to the increase in new cases– something his boss doesn’t want to hear.

No matter.  We sincerely hope that he will lose his job in January.  Otherwise, we will be in for more kakistocracy than this nation can handle.

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