Biden Picks COVID-19 Vaccine Proponent as Next CDC Director

Biden Picks COVID-19 Vaccine Proponent as Next CDC Director
Dr. Mandy Cohen, COO and chief of staff of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid, attends a House Ways and Means Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington on Nov. 3, 2015. (Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

President Joe Biden has tapped an aggressive promoter of the COVID-19 vaccines as the next director of the CDC.

Biden, on June 16, announced he’d chosen Dr. Mandy Cohen, the former top health official in North Carolina, to lead the CDC after the current director steps down this month.

Cohen “is one of the nation’s top physicians and health leaders” with “a proven track record protecting Americans’ health and safety,” Biden said in a statement.

Cohen, who departed the North Carolina role in 2022, currently works as executive vice president at the health care company Aledade. She previously worked in the federal government’s Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services during the Obama administration.

Cohen will take over from Dr. Rochelle Walensky, who plans on stepping down before the end of June.

Walensky said Cohen “is a respected public health leader who helped North Carolina successfully navigate the COVID-19 pandemic” and that Cohen is “perfectly suited to lead CDC as it moves forward by building on the lessons learned from COVID-19 to create an organization poised to meet public health challenges of the future.”

No Senate confirmation vote is required for the position of CDC director. Senate confirmation will be required starting in 2025 under a recently-passed bill.

Vaccine Proponent

Cohen repeatedly promoted COVID-19 vaccines while in North Carolina’s government while, typical of health officials, downplaying concerns about side effects.

On Jan. 14, 2021, shortly after the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines were authorized, Cohen said in a statement: “It’s time to take action NOW. Stay home if you can. Avoid crowds. Wear your mask. Wash your hands. And when it’s your spot, take your shot.”

She later said that she was “protected against COVID” after receiving the since-pulled Johnson & Johnson vaccine and alleged the vaccines protected against getting infected and transmission.

Clinical trials showed efficacy against symptomatic infection but did not provide evidence for protection against infection or transmission, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Even after evidence began emerging that the protection from the vaccines was waning, Cohen said they were “remarkably effective.” When boosters were cleared to try to combat the waning, Cohen went to get one and encouraged others to do as well.

In late 2021, Cohen said that there were “no serious side effects” detected in the trials. But by that time, officials around the world had linked potentially-fatal blood clotting to the Johnson & Johnson vaccine and heart inflammation to the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines. She also repeated the claim that vaccinated people were “much, much less likely to spread COVID.”

After the Pfizer vaccine was authorized for children aged 5 to 11, Cohen said parents should know that “kids are vulnerable to COVID” and that they should “take advantage” of the “safe” and “effective” vaccine.

She also supported COVID-19 vaccine mandates, claiming that “vaccinations are our way out of the pandemic,” and helped punish businesses that defied Gov. Roy Cooper’s lockdown orders.

The old vaccines have since been replaced by new versions, for which no clinical efficacy data is available. Data indicates that vaccines provide little protection (pdf) against infection and short-lived protection against hospitalization.

Cohen has not mentioned the vaccines since late 2021 in public.

Cohen did not respond to a request for comment on how she plans to approach the vaccines as CDC director, nor a previous request to respond to Republican criticism of her positions.

NTD Photo
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky testifies to a House committee in Washington on June 13, 2023. (Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images)

Flailing Trust

The CDC still recommends nearly every American get one of the vaccines, but few Americans have listened.

Just 0.6 percent of children ages 4 and under have received a bivalent dose, along with 4.8 percent of children 5 to 11, 7.8 percent of children ages 12 to 17, 7.4 percent of adults 18 to 24, 12.1 percent of adults 24 to 49, 21.7 percent of adults ages 50 to 64, and 43.3 percent of adults 65 and older, according to CDC data as of May 10.

“The American public … is not getting these vaccines,” Dr. Peter Marks, a top FDA official, said on Thursday.

Some 44 percent of people polled in 2022 (pdf) said they trust what the CDC says about COVID-19, down from 55 percent earlier in the pandemic. Other surveys have also found declining trust in and support of the agency.

Dr. Jay Bhattacarya, a professor of health policy at Stanford University, attributed the decline to CDC guidance.

“Rochelle Walensky’s tenure as CDC director led the agency to embrace positions at odds with scientific evidence, such as denying the importance of immunity after COVID recovery,” Bhattacharya told The Epoch Times via email. “It supported divisive, ineffective policies like masking toddlers and mandating COVID vaccines.”

He said that the next director “has an opportunity to restore public trust in the CDC, but she will need to honestly and directly address the shortcomings of the agency’s pandemic management to make that happen.”

Walensky, after tripling down this week on one of her false claims about the COVID-19 vaccines and saying the vaccines are “remarkably effective at preventing severe disease and death,” also disputed the evidence on declining trust.

“I think that there is increasing confidence in the CDC,” Walensky said.

From The Epoch Times

ntd newsletter icon
Sign up for NTD Daily
What you need to know, summarized in one email.
Stay informed with accurate news you can trust.
By registering for the newsletter, you agree to the Privacy Policy.