CDC Under Fire for Not Publishing All COVID-19 Data It Collects
By: Zachary Stieber and Petr Svab
February 25, 2022:
A top U.S. agency is under fire for withholding some of the COVID-19 data it collects.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) confirmed to The Epoch Times that it has not published some of the data it collected on COVID-19 reinfections.
The spokesperson said it dropped plans for publishing a paper based on the data “given other response priorities” because a part of the same data was already presented in a published manuscript.
An agency representative told the New York Times that it has also withheld other information, including details on how booster doses have affected young people.
The data has not been released or has been released slowly because it takes time to make sure “it’s accurate and actionable,” the representative said, adding that there are fears the information might be misinterpreted. Multiple experts say the CDC should make all the data available.
Dr. Robert Malone, who helped create the messenger RNA technology some of the vaccines are built on, says the CDC’s actions are a type of fraud.
“Withholding data, key data, is scientific fraud,” Malone told The Epoch Times.
Dr. Jay Bhattacharya, a professor of medicine at Stanford University, said that the CDC shouldn’t “withhold information in order to manipulate behavior.”
The agency should “help Americans understand the data in context and provide guidance to improve the lives of all Americans,” he wrote on Twitter.
Paul Mango, a former official at the CDC’s parent agency, the Department of Health and Human Services, said that the CDC’s role should be collecting and disseminating data, not analyzing it itself.
“The CDC just doesn’t have the capacity to conduct research as quickly as the pandemic is moving,” Mango told The Epoch Times.
As one example, the Cleveland Clinic has since mid-2021 been publishing papers on the natural immunity many of its employees enjoy after recovering from COVID-19. The CDC didn’t publish a major study on the subject until January.
“I don’t think there’s anything more powerful than having 1,000 different people look at the data—scientists researcher, epidemiologists—and all interpret it. I hope they would interpret some of it differently, to tell you the truth. I think that would stimulate the right debate over things,” Mango added.
Mango, whose book on his time with Operation Warp Speed will be published soon, said the federal government would have done things differently if the role of natural immunity was better known in the wake of the COVID-19 vaccines being authorized. Instead, the government led efforts that resulted in many people who had the immunity getting some of the early doses, ahead of people more at risk.
The CDC has been collecting data on so-called breakthrough infections, or COVID-19 cases among the vaccinated, a spokesperson told the New York Times, but hasn’t published the figures because people may interpret them as the vaccines not performing effectively—the same reason given by Scottish health officials recently in halting the publication of some data.
The continued collection surprised Jessica Malaty Rivera, an epidemiologist who helped run the COVID Tracking Project. “We have been begging for that sort of granularity of data for two years,” she told the paper, adding that an analysis of the data “builds public trust, and it paints a much clearer picture of what’s actually going on.”
On April 30, 2021, the CDC published data on breakthrough infections for the last time. The data showed that at least 9,245 people had suffered breakthrough infections and that 132 of the patients died.
The numbers were reported by 46 U.S. states and territories but were described as a likely undercount because the reporting system is passive and doesn’t require reporting, in addition to the jurisdictions that didn’t report any data.
The CDC kept reporting hospitalizations and deaths among the vaccinated but transitioned from publishing raw numbers in the fall of 2021 to reporting rates of cases, hospitalizations, and deaths.
As of Oct. 18, 2021, jurisdictions reported over 30,200 hospitalizations and over 10,800 deaths among the vaccinated.
Breakthrough infections and reinfections are important to check because they are barometers of how strong immunity is against the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, which causes COVID-19.
A CDC spokesperson told The Epoch Times that it is holding unpublished data on reinfections it received from the Emerging Infections Network, a group comprised of some 3,000 medical professionals.
The agency dropped plans for publishing a paper based on the data “given other response priorities” and because a part of the same data was already presented in a manuscript published in late 2021, the spokesperson said.
The CDC didn’t provide a response to the criticism by deadline but some experts say the agency is working under constraints and has already published a lot of data.
While the CDC can improve, “the fact is that the CDC website and publications have extensive information, and many of the limitations reflect the reality of working in the U.S. health care and public health systems,” Dr. Tom Frieden, a former CDC director who is now president and CEO of Resolve to Save Lives, told The Epoch Times in an email.
The health care systems in the United States are “largely non-standardized as a result of policy choices made in Washington and the reality in the U.S. is that much of health policy and implementation is based on state policies,” he added.
Dr. Roger Klein, a health policy expert who has advised the CDC and other federal health agencies, said that transparency is a good idea but information conveyed by agencies needs to be accurate and put into proper context.
“You wouldn’t publish a paper, for example, if somebody submits a paper with data and you don’t think it’s reliable,” Klein told The Epoch Times.
Holding back incomplete datasets is appropriate, Peter Pitts, a former Food and Drug Administration associate commissioner, said.
“Science isn’t useful when you don’t have the whole picture,” Pitts told The Epoch Times via email.
Many experts, though, say the CDC has committed missteps during the pandemic.
A widely-cited example is CDC officials and other federal officials saying early on that masks shouldn’t be worn and weren’t able to prevent transmission of the CCP virus. The CDC has since advised all Americans 2 or older to don them, but that recommendation relies on studies criticized as shallow or incomplete. In one recent case, the agency published a study that relied on self-reporting and found no statistically significant benefit for wearing cloth masks, but still promoted the report as backing mask usage.
“There weren’t data to support certain recommendations and rather than saying, ‘look, we don’t have data to support this, but in our expert opinion, we feel that it’s the best course right now,’ they went ahead and presented ideas which were basically hypotheses as if they were based on empirical knowledge, based on having really strong underlying data, and those data weren’t there,” Klein said. Estimates of risks and benefits from COVID-19 and vaccines, meanwhile, are misleading in part because of how the CDC has told medical examiners to list COVID-19 on death certificates even if it’s not a confirmed cause of death, and even if patients aren’t confirmed to have had the disease, Malone asserted. That led to some deaths by car accident and poisoning being classified as COVID-19 deaths.
A CDC spokesperson said in an email that certifiers “should not list COVID-19 unless it was the cause of or contributed significantly to death” and that an analysis of certificates found COVID-19 was the underlying cause, meaning the disease initiated the causal pathway leading to death, in 91 percent of cases where certificates mention COVID-19.
Pitts, now the president of the Center for Medicine in the Public Interest, said the CDC has inconsistently reported data. For instance, the CDC just recently reported metrics for people aged 18 to 49 who received a booster dose, but have still not released more detailed information on boosters in young people. The agency recommends all Americans 12 and older get a booster regardless of prior infection or health status, advice that has drawn pushback.
Mango believes the CDC should move to release the data while emphasizing which numbers agency experts feel comfortable with and which they do not.
“I understand the concern about, they don’t want people to ‘misinterpret it.’ But show them how you got the data, then they can determine whether or not they think those data have high integrity or not,” he said. Source: The Epoch Times