In a rare political statement from a scientific journal, the New England Journal of Medicine released an editorial Wednesday lambasting the Trump administration’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic and calling on Americans to vote President Donald Trump out of office next month.
November’s election will have life-or-death consequences for people across the country regardless of party alignment, the journal’s editorial board said.
“Reasonable people will certainly disagree about the many political positions taken by candidates,” the journal’s editors wrote. “But truth is neither liberal nor conservative. 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. We should not abet them and enable the deaths of thousands more Americans by allowing them to keep their jobs.”
This is the first time in the journal’s 208-year history that the editors have ever published an editorial about elections, Editor-in-Chief Dr Eric Rubin told CNN. The editorial was collectively signed by every editor on staff, something that’s only happened on four other recent occasions, Rubin added.
The United States has “failed at every step,” leaving the nation with more than 500 coronavirus-related deaths per million people ― a shocking statistic compared to China’s reported 3 deaths per million, the editors wrote.
It’s easy to trace the myriad ways the Trump administration went wrong, they said:
The United States instituted quarantine and isolation measures late and inconsistently, often without any effort to enforce them, after the disease had spread substantially in many communities. 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. 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.
Under the leadership of Trump, who has dismissed the coronavirus as a hoax and refused to issue basic safety measures, the federal agencies needed to help control the outbreak have been eroded.
The editorial specifically mentions the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Institutes of Health:
The federal government has largely abandoned disease control to the states. Governors have varied in their responses, not so much by party as by competence. But whatever their competence, governors do not have the tools that Washington controls. Instead of using those tools, the federal government has undermined them. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which was the world’s leading disease response organisation, has been eviscerated and has suffered dramatic testing and policy failures. The National Institutes of Health have played a key role in vaccine development but have been excluded from much crucial government decision making.
The longstanding magazine Scientific American similarly broke with tradition last month and endorsed Trump’s Democratic opponent, Joe Biden.
“Scientific American has never endorsed a presidential candidate in its 175-year history,” the magazine’s editors wrote. “This year we are compelled to do so. We do not do this lightly.”
You can read the entire New England Journal of Medicine editorial here.