GOP Monkeypox Test Probe Presents 2023 Health Surveillance Program

Republican leaders on a House health panel are pushing the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to get answers about flaws in the agency’s initial response to the spread of monkeypox in the United States.

The letter — sent Thursday by Energy and Commerce Ranking Member Cathy McMorris Rodgers (Wash.), Brett Guthrie (Ky.) and Morgan Griffith (Va.) — shows how the Republicans’ watchdog program for 2023 is increasingly focused on public health agencies like the CDC and their failures to respond to the spread of Covid-19 and monkeypox.

The trio asked in the letter about “faulty CDC diagnostic testing procedures for the monkeypox virus” and noted that it “follows a similar CDC breakdown during the pandemic response” to Covid.

Earlier in 2022, testing for monkeypox was very limited, with government labs administering just 23 tests a day in June. The issue echoed missteps in early 2020 that delayed the development of tests to detect Covid-19. In 2020 and 2022, public health officials were unable to properly track the spread of viruses in the United States due to faulty deployment of testing platforms.

Photo: Karen Ducey/Getty Images

A researcher sets up an instrument that extracts DNA for Monkeypox virus testing at the UW Medicine Virology Laboratory July 12, 2022, in Seattle, Washington.

House Republicans have launched or renewed several investigations of various public health agencies in recent weeks and signaled their willingness to question public health officials about their decisions regarding urgent research and biomedical issues.

Earlier: Republicans try to launch probes into Biden’s Covid response

If Republicans next year win a majority in the House, which seems likely, they are poised to shift focus from the mistakes made by the Trump administration to the Covid response to the ways the Biden administration has failed.

Priority to public safety

Democrats created the Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis in April 2020 to investigate the Trump administration’s response to the Covid pandemic. This panel recently released a report outlining how the CDC accepted requests from the Trump administration to change the editorial process of its weekly scientific journal.

Republicans are focusing their oversight less on the White House’s dealings with scientific agencies like the CDC and more on public safety issues.

Rodgers, Guthrie and Griffith wrote to the National Institutes of Health this week to ask about monkeypox research that potentially involved creating a deadlier version of the virus for mice.

“The risk-benefit ratio indicates potentially serious risks without clear civilian practical applications,” they said in the letter.

Similarly, Republican Representatives Kevin Brady (Texas), Mike Kelly (Pennsylvania) and Lloyd Smucker (Pennsylvania) wrote to Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra on Thursday, requesting data on nursing home deaths. in states where health agencies ran the organizations. accept people who may have been infected with Covid.

“The American people deserve responsible government, which is especially critical when decisions are made that may have resulted in further transmission of the COVID-19 virus and the loss of thousands of American lives,” they said in the letter.

To contact the reporter on this story: Alex Ruoff in washington at [email protected]

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Anna Yukhananov at [email protected]; Sarah Babbage at [email protected]

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