On August 22, 2023, a federal advisory committee convened to revisit guidelines for infection control in healthcare settings in response to SARS-CoV-2, the airborne virus responsible for the COVID-19 pandemic. This committee, the Healthcare Infection Control Practices Advisory Committee (HICPAC), is a key advisor to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
For over a year and a half, starting in February 2022, HICPAC has been examining the guidelines in place to control many different pathogens in hospitals and other health care environments. An 11-member specialized group was mandated to draft an updated version of the guidance, which was originally supposed to be voted on during this meeting. However, the vote has since been deferred till the meeting in November 2023.
During this virtual gathering, numerous public individuals expressed their concerns and requested HICPAC to make the draft guidance and the working group meetings more open and available to the public – a request that signaled a call for enhanced transparency.
Furthermore, the attendees asked the committee to release any current reports and presentations related to the meetings. Unfortunately, not all who registered to speak were given the chance and the meeting concluded after a 41-minute public commentary session.
The meeting faced criticism, particularly when National Nurses United President Zenei Tiunfo-Cortez was not given a chance to speak due to technical difficulties.
Post the meeting, the video recording, initially available on YouTube, was taken down by the CDC. Post inquiries and demand from the public, the video was reinstated.
Media outlets have asked for more specifics about why the video was removed and who made such a decision, although no responses have been received so far. The deletion of the recording raised further questions of transparency and ignited the demand for the CDC to be more specific and accountable in its conduct.
Lastly, the World Health Network has announced they will host a Zoom meeting to give anyone denied a chance to speak at the HICPAC meeting an opportunity to make their voice heard.
Assigned HICPAC members are welcome to attend and the recording will be made available for both the federal committee and the public. These steps ensure that a wider range of input is received on such a critical issue.