Views of the CDC changed during the coronavirus pandemic and are now strongly politicized, according to researchers
Public trust in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) during the coronavirus pandemic dropped between May and October 2020, a survey found, with the most significant decline reported among non-Hispanic White and Hispanic respondents. The survey, conducted by the RAND Corporation, involved 2,000 Americans and rated the trust on a scale of 1-10, with 10 being the highest.
The average drop in trust among respondents was by about 0.7 points or 10%, the researchers said. The survey broke groups down into subgroups by ethnicity, voting intentions, age, and rural versus urban.
“In the end, there is remarkable consistency and convergence in reported levels of trust in the CDC across these subgroups after the declines, with the exception of the vote intention comparisons,” the researchers wrote.
Survey respondents who said they intended to vote for now-President Joe Biden showed a small, non-significant decline in trust in the CDC, whole those who said they planned to vote for former President Donald Trump, someone else, or not at all showed “significant and substantial declines in trust.”
The researchers said these findings suggest views of the CDC are now strongly politicized, which could be a challenge for the agency the country navigates the largest vaccine rollout in history.
“These surveys show that the CDC will need some perception rehabilitation, particularly among those who reported intending to vote for someone other than Biden or not vote at all (who had low levels of initial trust that declined even further),” the researchers said. “Although we know that the Black community has had low trust in the CDC, it is now similarly low across all of the groups.”
The Biden administration has announced a series of new initiatives including deploying social media influencers and community leaders to help inform with factual information pertaining to vaccines and virus safety in an attempt to ease concerns about distrust. The researchers further suggest that in addition to community messengers, the CDC adds a layer of openness and transparency, particularly as it pertains to changing guidance, in a way similar to how the FDA has adapted.