CDC gone woke

Earlier this week in an important New York Post column Betsy McCaughey took up the “racialization” of vaccine distribution by the public health authorities. Now comes the Washington Free Beacon’s Aaron Sibarium to follow up in “How the Centers for Disease Control Went Woke.” Sibarium shows in devastating fashion how the epidemic of racism that runs rampant throughout our institutions has now manifested in the CDC. Sibarium goes in for close analysis:

[T]he CDC’s framework adopted different priorities [than the elderly]. Of its five proposed principles—maximize benefits and minimize harms, equity, justice, fairness, and transparency—two explicitly mention racial health disparities.

“The equity principle,” [CDC epidemiologist Sara] Oliver said, according to meeting notes, will “make sure that vaccine allocation reduces, rather than increases, health disparities,” while the “fairness principle includes a commitment to … not exacerbating existing disparities in health outcomes.”

The result was a kind of moral double counting, in which closing disparities promoted two separate values, whereas saving lives promoted just one. As phrased, equity and fairness sound like they are at odds with harm reduction: If vaccinating by age minimized deaths across all racial groups, but widened the gap between racial death rates, the principles seem to rule out that strategy, since it would increase racial disparities overall.

The Washington Free Beacon asked 13 members of the CDC advisory committee whether this was an accurate reading of its framework. Not a single one answered the question, though Kathy Kinlaw, the group’s sole “ethics consultant,” said she thought “mitigating health inequities” would “minimize harm—and maximize benefits—for all.”

* * * * *

The CDC committee thus took two statements that championed the interests of the elderly and used them to justify a plan that would disproportionately kill senior citizens—implying that age-conscious alternatives were discriminatory, even as the race-conscious plan passed with unanimous support at a subsequent meeting.

All of this—the exclusions, the contradictions, the moral redundancies—helped disguise the agenda that it justified, giving unscientific value judgments an air of scientific assuredness.

The backlash against those judgments hasn’t contained the ideology that gave rise to them. Marcella Nunez-Smith, a co-chair of Joe Biden’s COVID-19 advisory board, commended the experts at the CDC for “taking political interference out of the process” and for “their grounding in inequity.” Like them, she seems not to have realized the irony.

The whole thing here is full of links to source materials.