Is The CDC Trying To Put A Prime Time Spin On COVID Data?

Since the pandemic began changing American life in the first months of 2020, guidance from our government that determines how we conduct our daily lives has been based around data and findings supplied by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). But it’s recently been reported that the CDC is holding back the vast majority of the data it collects. 

According to the New York Times, the CDC has been leaving out important data concerning how effective booster shots of the COVID-19 vaccine are in adults under 65. Specifically, the effectiveness of 18-49-year-olds was left out when the CDC published the first significant data on boosters a couple of weeks ago. This age group is the least likely to benefit from additional boosters since the first two doses likely left them sufficiently protected against COVID.

Additionally, the CDC has withheld findings based on wastewater data shared by some states and localities. Wastewater data can help predict potential infectious disease surges by analyzing the viral load shed by residents. Contamination from the virus can show up in wastewater even if the people shedding it are asymptomatic. The CDC has never released any data it collected pertaining to wastewater.

CDC spokeswoman Kristen Nordlund told The Times that the agency has been posting data slowly “because basically, at the end of the day, it’s not yet ready for prime time.” She went on to say that the CDC’s “priority when gathering any data is to ensure that it’s accurate and actionable.” Nordlund also expressed the CDC’s concern that the data could be misinterpreted. 

The CDC has routinely collected information since the first COVID vaccines were administered and has been reluctant to make those figures public. A federal official familiar with this matter told the Times that the agency is concerned the data might be misinterpreted as the vaccines being ineffective. 

Nordlund confirmed that was one of the CDC’s reasons for withholding COVID data. She said another reason is that data represents only 10 percent of the United States’ population, but the CDC has relied on that same sample size to track the flu for years. 

The CDC contains many different divisions that must authorize all important publications. Furthermore, its officials must notify the Department of Health and Human Services and the White House of their plans before taking action. The CDC frequently shares data with states and partners before publishing it to the general public. 

“The CDC is a political organization as much as it is a public health organization,” Samuel Scarpino, managing director of pathogen surveillance at the Rockefeller Foundation’s Pandemic Prevention Institute told the Times. “The steps that it takes to get something like this released are often well outside of the control of many of the scientists that work at the CDC.”

In the absence of fully published data collected and distributed by American sources, health agencies have had to rely on data furnished by Israel to make decisions about vaccine recommendations and booster recommendations. The American public has also been cut out of the full disclosure and decision-making process as well, adding to general distrust of the CDC and its continually evolving guidances. 

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