Reuters Examines Changes To CDC, NSC Epidemiology, Pandemic Response Staff Under Trump Administration

Reuters: Exclusive: U.S. slashed CDC staff inside China prior to coronavirus outbreak
“The Trump administration cut staff by more than two-thirds at a key U.S. public health agency operating inside China, as part of a larger rollback of U.S.-funded health and science experts on the ground there leading up to the coronavirus outbreak, Reuters has learned. Most of the reductions were made at the Beijing office of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and occurred over the past two years, according to public CDC documents viewed by Reuters and interviews with four people familiar with the drawdown. … The CDC’s China headcount has shrunk to around 14 staffers, down from approximately 47 people since President Donald Trump took office in January 2017, the documents show. The four people, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the losses included epidemiologists and other health professionals…” (Taylor, 3/25).

Reuters: Partly false claim: Trump fired pandemic response team in 2018
“Numerous posts and images circulated on social media make the claim that President Donald Trump fired the ‘entire pandemic response team’ in 2018 … The Global Health Security and Biodefense unit — responsible for pandemic preparedness — was established in 2015 by Barack Obama’s National Security Advisor, Susan Rice. The unit resided under the National Security Council (NSC) — a forum of White House personnel that advises the president on national security and foreign policy matters. In May 2018, the team was disbanded and its head Timothy Ziemer, top White House official in the NSC for leading U.S. response against a pandemic, left the Trump administration, the Washington Post reported. … There is disagreement over how to describe the changes at the NSC’s Directorate for Global Health Security and Biodefense in 2018. The departure of some members due to ‘streamlining’ efforts under John Bolton is documented. The ‘pandemic response team’ as a unit was largely disbanded” (3/25).

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