Many of us are celebrating the fact “science-based” is no longer a banned phrase in our new national administration. Not surprisingly, the new director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Dr. Rochelle Walensky, has an impressive background in her science-based profession. She served previously as the chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases at Massachusetts General Hospital and as professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School. We trust she shares the pro-science values of the president and others in the administration and hope she will allow science to speak clearly without fear or favor in directing the CDC.
As a start, the administration’s pandemic response gives every indication of a science-based effort, as does its emphasis on the threats of climate change. However, the CDC, in particular, must do more than place science at the front of the highly visible COVID-19 assault. If it wants the public to understand science as more than a convenient political ally, it must move on a broader front.
I say that as someone whose faith in our system has declined appreciably while studying the science and history of community water fluoridation. In short, the 70-plus-years chronicle of this practice has convinced me inertia, commercial interests and apparent fear of admitting error can stifle the clear warning signs of science.
The CDC is at the forefront in the ongoing promotion of the misguided “public-health measure” known as fluoridation. Particularly egregious is the CDC’s thinly supported declaration that fluoridation is one of the “10 great public health achievements of the 20th century.” Though demonstrably untrue, it stands like a commandment engraved in stone, blocking any re-evaluation of the practice.
My hope is, led by the CDC, the country will not only prevail against COVID-19 but will show the fortitude to face other health issues, like fluoride neurotoxicity, that vested interests prefer to ignore.
Jack Crowther lives in Rutland.