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New England Journal of Medicine publishes first election stance in anti-Trump editorial

“Our leaders have largely claimed immunity for their actions,” said the piece, which was signed by 34 of the journal’s editors. “But this election gives us the power to render judgment.”

The journal has only published four other editorials signed by all the editors, including an obituary for longtime editor in chief Arnold S. Relman, who died in 2014. The three others, published in 2014 and 2019, tackled contraception access, abortion policy and draft guidance from the federal government on informed consent requirements in standard-of-care research. Never before have the journal’s editors collectively weighed in on an election, let alone a presidential race.

The coronavirus, which has now killed at least 211,000 Americans, changed that. Wednesday’s editorial argued that national leaders had the opportunity to limit the virus’s spread and prevent widespread illness, deaths and lasting economic turmoil.

“Here in the United States, our leaders have failed that test,” the editorial said. “They have taken a crisis and turned it into a tragedy.”

The U.S. “leads the world in Covid-19 cases and in deaths due to the disease,” the editorial says. Its infection and death rates have outstripped those in China, where the pandemic began; in Japan, which has a large and vulnerable elderly population; and in Vietnam, which has fewer national resources. And testing has also lagged behind much of the world, the editorial said, when measured by tests performed per infected person.

“The magnitude of this failure is astonishing,” the editorial said. “We have failed at almost every step.”

Differing opinions on neutrality in the scientific community have led some journals to regularly weigh in on political issues and others to abstain almost entirely. NEJM’s editors previously remained mum on elections and most other political issues, in part to preserve the perception of neutrality and credibility behind the peer-reviewed science the journal publishes.

Wednesday’s editorial shifted that stance, deriding the administration for undermining experts and relying heavily on layman allies to promote policies that furthered Trump’s political aims.

“Our current leaders have undercut trust in science and in government, causing damage that will certainly outlast them,” they wrote. “Instead of relying on expertise, the administration has turned to uninformed ‘opinion leaders’ and charlatans who obscure the truth and facilitate the promulgation of outright lies.”

Officials in the Trump administration have tried to discredit and undermine some experts who have criticized the way the federal government responded to the pandemic. Last month, Michael Caputo, the top communications official for the Department of Health and Human Services, claimed scientists at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention were conspiring against the president and engaged in “sedition.” Others have tried to tightly control information about the state of the pandemic.

The NEJM isn’t the first science-focused publication pushed to weigh in on the election due to the tense relationship between the Trump administration and the scientific community. Scientific American also published a presidential endorsement for the first time in its October issue, urging its readers to vote for former vice president

New England Journal of Medicine editorial takes aim at Trump administration: “This election gives us the power to render judgment”

The New England Journal of Medicine made a rare political move Wednesday, publishing an editorial by dozens of U.S. editors who denounced the Trump administration’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic and said this election “gives us the power to render judgment.” 

The editorial, titled “Dying in a Leadership Vacuum,” does not explicitly endorse former Vice President Joe Biden, but the editors’ message is clear — the current leadership must change.

“Our current leaders have undercut trust in science and in government, causing damage that will certainly outlast them. Instead of relying on expertise, the administration has turned to uninformed ‘opinion leaders’ and charlatans who obscure the truth and facilitate the promulgation of outright lies,” the editorial says. 

“Anyone else who recklessly squandered lives and money in this way would be suffering legal consequences,” the editorial added. “Our leaders have largely claimed immunity for their actions. But this election gives us the power to render judgment.”

The editorial notes that, while some deaths in the U.S. were inevitable, tens of thousands could have been saved with a better response. 

Meanwhile, President Trump is claiming personal victory over the virus, saying he feels great as he presumably continues to still be shedding the virus. The president said it was a “blessing from God” that he contracted COVID-19, so he can encourage greater access for the experimental drugs he used.

“I feel great. I feel like, perfect,” the president said in a four-minute video posted to Twitter. “I think this was a blessing from God, that I caught it. This was a blessing in disguise. I caught it, I heard about this drug, I said let me take it, it was my suggestion. I said, let me take it. And it was incredible the way it worked, incredible. And I think if I didn’t catch it, we’d be looking at that like a number of other drugs. But it really did a fantastic job. I want to get for you what I got. I’m going to make it free, you’re not going to pay for it.” 

Meanwhile, “isolation carts” have been set up in the West Wing, where staff can pull personal protective equipment in order to interact with the president. 

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Editorial: Nebraska Medicine must inform patients about the hacker attack details | Editorial

Our wired world unavoidably puts our personal information at potential risk. The points of vulnerability are many: Our home computers. Banks and credit unions. Online retailers. Government agencies.

Indeed, the health care sector has been regularly a target of hackers across the country. Nebraska has had several examples. Malware, brought in by a third-party vendor’s device, struck a CHI Health location in 2019. The year before, a hacker accessed patient information at Boys Town National Research Hospital.

Last week, Nebraska Medicine became the latest health care facility targeted in our state for cyberattack. The assault — described as a “significant information technology system downtime event” — led the hospital to postpone patient appointments, with staff resorting to old-style charting of medical information.

Nebraska Medicine has since regained its footing in terms of service delivery.

“People have done a yeoman’s job in making sure we deliver good patient care,” the hospital’s CEO, Dr. James Linder, told The World-Herald. Nebraska Medicine kept its emergency rooms open and didn’t need to divert patients to other hospitals.

The hospital’s information system retains patients’ electronic medical records.

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