Rebuking Trump, The New England Journal of Medicine calls for ousting the nation’s ‘dangerously incompetent’ leaders.

Throughout its 208-year history, The New England Journal of Medicine has remained staunchly nonpartisan. The world’s most prestigious medical journal has never supported or condemned a political candidate.

Until now.

In an editorial published on Wednesday, the journal said the Trump administration had responded so poorly to the coronavirus pandemic that it had “taken a crisis and turned it into a tragedy.”

The journal did not explicitly endorse former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., the Democratic nominee, but that was the only possible inference, other scientists noted.

The N.E.J.M.’s editors join those of another influential journal, Scientific American, who last month endorsed Mr. Biden.

The political leadership has failed Americans in many ways that contrast vividly with responses from leaders in other countries, the editorial said.

In the United States, it said, there was too little testing for the virus, especially early on. There was too little protective equipment, and a lack of national leadership on important measures like mask wearing, social distancing, quarantine and isolation.

There were attempts to politicize and undermine the Food and Drug Administration, the National Institutes of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the journal noted.

As a result, the United States has had tens of thousands of “excess” deaths — those caused both directly and indirectly by the pandemic — as well as immense economic pain and an increase in social inequality as the virus hit disadvantaged communities hardest.

The editorial castigated the Trump administration’s rejection of science. “Instead of relying on expertise, the administration has turned to uninformed ‘opinion leaders’ and charlatans who obscure the truth and facilitate the promulgation of outright lies.”

The uncharacteristically pungent editorial called for change: “When it comes to the response to the largest public health crisis of our time, our current political leaders have demonstrated that they are dangerously incompetent. We should not abet them and enable the deaths of thousands more Americans by allowing them to keep their jobs.”

Scientific American, too, had never before endorsed a political candidate. “The pandemic would strain any nation and system, but Trump’s rejection of evidence and public health measures have been catastrophic,” the journal’s editors said.

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‘Dangerously incompetent’ politicians must go

The New England Journal of Medicine, one of the most prestigious medical journals in the world, on Wednesday broke with a nearly two-century tradition of avoiding politics to lambast U.S. politicians for their handling of the coronavirus pandemic.

In a first for the journal, the editors called for Americans to vote out leaders who have not done enough to address the pandemic.

“When it comes to the response to the largest public health crisis of our time, our current political leaders have demonstrated that they are dangerously incompetent,” the editors wrote. “We should not abet them and enable the deaths of thousands more Americans by allowing them to keep their jobs.”

While the 35 editors who signed the editorial did not call out President Donald Trump by name, the article is filled with allusions to his actions.

“The response of our nation’s leaders has been consistently inadequate,” they wrote. “The federal government has largely abandoned disease control to the states. Governors have varied in their responses, not so much by party as by competence. But whatever their competence, governors do not have the tools that Washington controls.”

The editorial is the latest condemnation of the Trump administration from a respected scientific publication. Last month, Scientific American endorsed Joe Biden for president, the first time the venerable publication has backed a presidential candidate in its 175-year history.

The New England Journal of Medicine editorial, titled “Dying in a Leadership Vacuum,” does not endorse Biden, it offers an unsparing critique of Trump and his administration.

The editors wrote that while Covid-19 is a global crisis, the United States government has “failed at almost every step” to contain the pathogen’s spread.

“This crisis has produced a test of leadership,” they wrote. “With no good options to combat a novel pathogen, countries were forced to make hard choices about how to respond. Here in the United States, our leaders have failed that test. They have taken a crisis and turned it into a tragedy.”

The U.S. leads the world in the number of confirmed Covid-19 cases and deaths. The country has recorded over 7.3 million infections and more than 208,000 deaths, according to the World Health Organization.

The editorial points to early blunders such as testing shortages and a lack of personal protective equipment for health care workers, but adds that the country continues to fall short today.

“While the absolute numbers of tests have increased substantially, the more useful metric is the number of tests performed per infected person, a rate that puts us far down the international list, below such places as Kazakhstan, Zimbabwe and Ethiopia, countries that cannot boast the biomedical infrastructure or the manufacturing capacity that we have,” they wrote.

The editors called other public health interventions, such as social distancing measures, “lackadaisical at best,” and criticized moves to lift restrictions before the virus’ spread was brought under control.

The editorial also pointed out that mask wearing has been inconsistent across the country, “largely because our leaders have