Krampus visits Atlanta
The CDC has taken a lot of heat this year, about lab snafus involving anthrax and avian flu, and about some early problems in Ebola response. Now we have front page stories about another lab error—live Ebola virus mistakenly sent from a BSL-4 to a BSL-2 lab environment, at least according to the NY Times account. I’m sure there is more to this story, but the incident has already resulted in another loud chorus about CDC’s failings. Like Krampus, the anti-Santa of Bavarian legend who comes to punish naughty children, many will want to sanction CDC.
That would be a mistake. Krampus should instead visit Washington DC, and severely punish the politicians who consistently underfund the CDC. I agree that CDC needs to improve the safety culture in their laboratories, and hold people accountable for following established procedures. They are working on that. The saddest part, to me, about these incidents is that they always garner far more attention than the hundreds of things that the CDC does right every day, and that are essential to protecting the public health. The challenges faced by CDC get larger every year (Ebola, MERS-CoV, Enterovirus D68, carbapenemase producers, and on and on). Yet the budget trend (see below and online) is in the other direction. I hope Santa eventually brings CDC a larger budget, while Krampus stays busy on Capitol Hill.