According to The New York Times, the US Agency is refusing to make public any pandemic data it has collected to date.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has kept reams of its Covid-19 data under wraps for more than a year, the New York Times reports, holding back figures at least partly because it doesn’t trust the public to interpret the information correctly.
The agency’s seemingly selective disclosure came to light in an article by the Times on Sunday. A breakdown by Covid-19 hospitalizations according to age, race and vaccination status is one of the withheld data. It also decided not to publish information on findings such as booster shots’ efficacy in people aged 18 to 49 years old, despite having collected this data, according to the article.
Although it’s the agency leading America’s Covid-19 response, the CDC has published only a “tiny fraction” of the data that it has collected, the Times said. In lieu of US data being made more widely available, experts were forced to look elsewhere for information – such as Israeli figures on booster shots – that would help them make informed recommendations.
CDC spokeswoman Kristen Nordlund told the newspaper that the agency’s data priority has been to collect “accurate and actionable” information. Some data has been withheld because “it’s not yet ready for prime time,” she said.
These omissions include figures about Covid-19 infection rates among Americans who have been fully vaccinated. According to the media report, the CDC has been reluctant to publish those figures because “they might be misinterpreted as the vaccines being ineffective.” Nordlund confirmed that concern as one of the reasons.
Jessica Malaty Rivera is an Epidemiologist and part of a Covid-19 Data-Tracking Project. She told the Times her team had been asking for this information for over two years. “We are at much greater risk of misinterpreting the data with data vacuums than sharing the data with proper science, communication and caveats,” she argued.
CDC sparks controversy over Covid test explanation
The CDC has come under fire for not being transparent and consistent throughout most of the pandemic. For example, when the agency reversed course on mask-wearing guidance for vaccinated people last summer, it attributed the decision to only “unpublished data.” The New York Time’s revelations about the agency withholding data triggered a fresh round of opprobrium.
“It’s political manipulation of scientific data like this that makes people not ‘trust the science,’”J. Michael Waller is a senior analyst with the Center for Security Strategy. tweet. “It is unscientific to withhold data because people might disagree with your policies.”