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CDC director Robert Redfield testifies at a Senate Appropriations subcommittee hearing on Sept. 16. Photo: Anna Moneymaker-Pool/Getty Images

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention updated its previously revised guidance for coronavirus testing on Friday to say that testing asymptomatic people who were exposed to COVID-19 is recommended for treatment and contact tracing.

Why it matters: The CDC's modification in August to recommend against testing for asymptomatic people was not written by scientists and posted despite their "serious objections," New York Times first reported. CNN confirmed that the agency's update was published outside the agency's "normal review process."

  • Unnamed officials told the Times that the Department of Health and Human Services rewrote the guidance and “dropped” it onto the CDC's website, without following the agency’s scientific review process.

The big picture: A slew of recent reporting suggests deep politicization of the Trump administration's coronavirus response, Axios' Caitlin Owens reports.

  • House Democrats have launched an investigation into allegations that Trump's political appointees — including Michael Caputo, a former member of the Trump campaign with no scientific background — pressured CDC officials "to block the publication of accurate scientific reports" on the coronavirus.

The bottom line: "Testing asymptomatic people who have been in contact with confirmed cases can identify these people early and ensure they are both isolated, so they cannot transmit the virus, and monitored, in case they go on to develop severe disease," Stat News' Helen Branswell wrote in August, after the CDC's initial reversal.

The CDC did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Go deeper

Updated Jan 18, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

  1. Health: CDC director defends agency's response to pandemic — CDC warns highly transmissible coronavirus variant could become dominant in U.S. in March.
  2. Politics: Empire State Building among hundreds to light up in Biden inauguration coronavirus tribute.
  3. Vaccine: Fauci: 100 million doses in 100 days is "absolutely" doable.
  4. Economy: Unemployment filings explode again.
  5. Tech: Kids' screen time sees a big increase.
Dec 27, 2020 - World

WHO chief warns coronavirus crisis "will not be the last pandemic"

World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus at the WHO headquarters in Geneva. Photo: Fabrice Coffrini/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

World Health Organization chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in a video marking the first International Day of Epidemic Preparedness Sunday "history tells us that this will not be the last pandemic, and epidemics are a fact of life."

What he's saying: Tedros said responses to such outbreaks had been "dangerously short-sighted," throwing money at the problem without preparing for the next one.

Updated Dec 27, 2020 - World

EU launches coronavirus vaccine drive to inoculate 450M people

Krystyna Matusik, a nurse from the Krakow University Hospital Intensive Care Unit, is given the first jab of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine in Krakow, Poland, on Sunday. Photo: Omar Marques/Getty Images

The European Union began on Sunday a coordinated rollout of coronavirus vaccinations across its 27 member states in a drive to inoculate some 450 million people.

Why it matters: Several European countries have tightened restrictions as cases, deaths and hospitalizations surge. EU countries have recorded at least 16 million COVID-19 cases and 336,000 deaths since the pandemic began, per AP.