The New England Journal of Medicine on Wednesday, in an unprecedented editorial, denounced the Trump administration’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic and called for voting out “current political leaders” who are “dangerously incompetent.”
The harshly worded editorial is the first time the prestigious medical journal, which usually stays out of politics, has weighed in on an election.
The editorial does not mention President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump and Biden’s plans would both add to the debt, analysis finds Trump says he will back specific relief measures hours after halting talks Trump lashes out at FDA over vaccine guidelines MORE by name, but it refers to “the administration” and calls for voting out “our current political leaders.”
“When it comes to the response to the largest public health crisis of our time, our current political leaders have demonstrated that they are dangerously incompetent,” the editorial states. “We should not abet them and enable the deaths of thousands more Americans by allowing them to keep their jobs.”
The journal takes the Trump administration to task on a wide range of issues that it argues the U.S. has failed on, from inadequate testing to shortages of protective equipment for health workers.
“We have failed at almost every step,” the editorial states. “We had ample warning, but when the disease first arrived, we were incapable of testing effectively and couldn’t provide even the most basic personal protective equipment to health care workers and the general public. And we continue to be way behind the curve in testing.”
The editorial also criticizes states for reopening businesses before the virus had been controlled and for a lack of mask-wearing, which it blames on leaders not modeling the behavior. Trump has rarely worn a mask during appearances for months and has mocked their use.
“Our rules on social distancing have in many places been lackadaisical at best, with loosening of restrictions long before adequate disease control had been achieved,” it states. “And in much of the country, people simply don’t wear masks, largely because our leaders have stated outright that masks are political tools rather than effective infection control measures.”
The U.S. leads the world in cases and deaths from the virus, it notes.
“The magnitude of this failure is astonishing,” the editors write. “According to the Johns Hopkins Center for Systems Science and Engineering, the United States leads the world in Covid-19 cases and in deaths due to the disease, far exceeding the numbers in much larger countries, such as China.”
It adds that countries like South Korea and Singapore were able to suppress the virus through robust testing and contact tracing, in contrast to the U.S.
The journal also points to political pressure Trump has placed on health agencies ranging from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to the Food and Drug Administration, warning of the undermining of scientific expertise.
“Our current leaders have undercut trust in science and in government, causing damage that will certainly outlast them,” it states.