Vinay Prasad in Tablet:
The main federal agency guiding America’s pandemic policy is the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, which sets widely adopted policies on masking, vaccination, distancing, and other mitigation efforts to slow the spread of COVID and ensure the virus is less morbid when it leads to infection. The CDC is, in part, a scientific agency—they use facts and principles of science to guide policy—but they are also fundamentally a political agency: The director is appointed by the president of the United States, and the CDC’s guidance often balances public health and welfare with other priorities of the executive branch.
…Ultimately, science is not a political sport. It is a method to ascertain truth in a chaotic, uncertain universe. Science itself is transcendent, and will outlast our current challenges no matter what we choose to believe. But the more it becomes subordinate to politics—the more it becomes a slogan rather than a method of discovery and understanding—the more impoverished we all become. The next decade will be critical as we face an increasingly existential question: Is science autonomous and sacred, or a branch of politics? I hope we choose wisely, but I fear the die is already cast.