Former acting CDC director: America needs a public health agency that they can trust and respect

During a public health crisis, clear communication is key, Dr. Richard Besser argued

During an interview on "Mornings with Maria," Thursday, former acting CDC director Dr. Richard Besser broke down the miscalculations made by the CDC throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. 

DR. RICHARD BESSER: We as a nation need to have a public health agency that we trust, that we listen to, that we respect, that understands the needs of people across our nation. It think it is too late to regain the trust around COVID, but as we know, there are public health crises and events that will continue to occur, that are occurring now, and CDC does have a chance to reset. 

One of the things during a public health crisis early on, what you don't know far outweighs what you do know. And if the CDC, or other public health leaders are in conversation with the public every single day, saying, here's where we are today, here are things that we think, but we're studying, and we're going to try and get better answers. And here are those things that we just don't have an idea yet. That can [help] bring people along so that as we learn about vaccines early on. 

Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, Pool / AP Newsroom)

With the earlier strains of COVID-19, vaccines were much more effective at preventing not just hospitalization and death, but any type of infection. Right now, we know that the vaccines remain very effective against hospitalization and death. But if you're vaccinated, you are still at risk of getting COVID. Thankfully, it will be more mild. But if you're not in conversation with people, it can be really confusing. And people can think that, wow, vaccines aren't that good against severe COVID. They are. But they're not that good against mild infection.