The CDC abruptly pulled guidance saying that COVID-19 is primarily spread via airborne transmission; HHS issues memo stating that the FDA no longer has the authority to sign any new rules on food, vaccines; a novel study examines risk of infection during a flight.
The CDC removed from its website Monday revised guidance, published Friday, saying that the transmission of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is airborne. The Hill and The Washington Post reported that the CDC says the document was posted in error. The Hill reported that the CDC said the guidance posted Friday was a “draft version of proposed changes.”
Reported by The New York Times, HHS Secretary Alex Azar issued a memo on September 15 stating the FDA no longer has the authority to sign any new rules regarding the nation’s foods, medicines, medical devices, and vaccines, a power that Azar notes is reserved to himself. While it is unclear how the memo may change the vetting and approval process for a COVID-19 vaccine, the new policy could lead to delays in the regulatory process. During his tenure as the former FDA commissioner, Scott Gottlieb was a known opponent to the proposed policy. In an appearance on “Face the Nation,” Gottlieb cited the announcement as the “wrong move at the wrong time.”
Reported by The Hill, a novel study by the CDC found that 1 person with COVID-19 infected 15 others during a long-haul flight from London to Vietnam in early March. As one of the first studies to analyze the dangers of in-flight transmission of COVID-19, researchers note that the most likely route of spread during the flight is via aerosol or droplet transmission, especially among passengers in business class, as well as during pre-departure and boarding. The study was conducted before mask mandates were required on flights, which was noted to help reduce the risk of transmission. However, researchers say that more on-board precautions and screening procedures are warranted.