I wanted to share this note from TPM Reader CD (not their real initials). The person’s background will become clear through the note itself. I do not and am not in a position to endorse the viewpoint. But this is one of those readers backgrounders I pass along not because I’m in a position to vouch for all the viewpoints but because they are knowledge and providing an informed personal perspective that helped me deepen my understanding of an important issue – in this case the evolution of the CDC in recent decades.
It’s hardly the main point of it. But I was intrigued CD‘s point that the “CDC, unlike FDA, operates through soft power—making clinical recommendations and setting up surveillance and case definition systems that often are adopted by professional orgs, international bodies, other federal agencies etc.” This wouldn’t be a new point to people like CD who come out of this world. And it’s actually an implicit in most of the reporting on the pandemic over the last two years. But I hadn’t quite understood this point before or had it explained to me in that way. This must be in large part due to the firmer statutory footing of the FDA which goes back to the Pure Food and Drug Act of 1906. The CDC has a more evolutionary or agglomerative history, as we noted here.