Letter to the Editor: Call to Evaluate the SARS2/COVID19 Pandemic Response 

Submitted by Ann A. Kiessling, Ph.D. 

Today marks the fourth anniversary of the request by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) that all laboratories federally licensed for high complexity PCR testing develop a PCR test for SARS2.  The Bedford Research Foundation’s clinical laboratory arm held such a license, and qualified for FDA’s Emergency Use Authorization of its in-house test by late March, 2020.  

Throughout the year, in keeping with private laboratories all over the U.S., the BRF lab conducted over 30,000 tests for hospitals, long term care facilities, summer camps, and Bedford residents and town staff.  By summer, 2020, country-wide test results revealed SARS2 was a mild upper respiratory infection for most adults, nearly symptomless for healthy children and babies, but infected seniors could develop life threatening COVID19 lung disease.

With this information, why did the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a branch of U. S. Health and Human Services (HHS), not adhere to its own 2017 Recommendations for Pulmonary Disease Pandemic (1)? Those recommendations (quarantining infected persons, exploring existing medications for anti-viral activity, limiting school and business lockdowns as being of limited value in preventing spread, suggesting 3-foot (not 6-foot) distancing might limit virus spread, questioning the value of community-wide mask mandates) were based on review of decades of pulmonary disease outbreaks. 

 The COVID19 responses of many governments have now been reviewed and made public (2), including a comprehensive evaluation by the U. S. Government Accounting Office (GAO) released last year (3).  The U. S. GAO made “386 recommendations to government agencies and raised 19 matters for congressional consideration.”  

The GAO report is especially critical of HHS: “As of March, 2022, after more than 2 years of experience in responding to the COVID19 pandemic, the HHS had not taken steps to identify, document and share all challenges and lessons learned that public health entities experienced during the pandemic.  Until HHS takes these steps, opportunities to improve the response to ongoing and future public health emergencies by learning from past challenges will likely be missed (3).” 

 The HHS needs COVID19 pandemic feedback from ALL communities like Bedford in order to develop appropriate guidelines going forward.  Bedford therefore has the responsibility to carefully evaluate its SARS2/COVID19 pandemic response both for a better local plan for the future, as well as to provide information feedback to state and federal agencies.    

(1) https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/66/rr/rr6601a1.htm

(2) https://www.cato.org/policy-analysis/sweden-during-pandemic

(3) https://www.gao.gov/assets/830/827452.pdf

Note: Ann A. Kiessling, Ph.D., is an elected member of the Bedford Board of Health. This letter represents her own opinion, not that of the Board.

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The opinions expressed in Letters to the Editor are those of the writer, not The Bedford Citizen.

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Alison O'Connell
March 12, 2024 4:19 pm

I definitely think it’d be worth evaluating our past response so we can better plan for a similar event in the future.

Doug Horton
March 5, 2024 9:40 pm

I think this is a great idea! Why wouldn’t we want to learn from our own recent experiences and that of other Bedford residents? I would frankly be disappointed if we didn’t.

Robert Kalantari
March 5, 2024 8:43 am

I cannot agree more with Dr. Kiessling’s assessment of the Covid mishandling at all levels of government. She is the most qualified person on our town’s board of health, but the least appreciated by some of our town residents due to their ignorance and who knows, maybe due to their political agenda.
Just search her name and look at her bio, you will find out that she has accomplished so much in her career, something we all have to be proud to have her on our board of health. Please, enough attack on Dr. Kiessling. She deserves a lot of kudos.

Thank you Ann for all your hard work, a lot of us do appreciate your efforts.

Last edited 1 month ago by Robert Kalantari
Mary Jane Patterson
March 5, 2024 10:02 pm

One of my favorite quotes is “knowledge is power”. Why wouldn’t we access our town’s response to Covid? What worked and what didn’t. Dr.Kiessling is more than qualified to oversee this review and the rest of the BOH should be in full support of this initiative.

Timothy Bennett
March 3, 2024 12:07 am

Whenever Ann A. Kiessling, Ph.D writes an opinion article in this paper you can be certain of two things:
1. She will mention Bedford Research Foundation in a positive light
2. She will not mention that she is the Director of the Bedford Research Foundation

Joseph R Piantedosi
March 5, 2024 8:51 am

We are very fortunate to have Ann Kiessling and the Bedford Research Foundation in our town. I have known Ann for many years and have admired her hard work and exceptional professional skills in these areas. She has also volunteered many hours of her time over the years to the benefit of all of us and its nice to have someone like her point out ongoing issues with the covid epidemic.

Timothy Bennett
March 6, 2024 8:37 pm

In that case, she should proudly disclose her relationship with the BRF when she writes about it.

Doug Horton
March 5, 2024 9:38 pm

Ann would be chastised if she didn’t. She was required to abstain from her responsibilities on the board of health for it.

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