Medical experts slammed the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention after the agency admitted to withholding a significant amount of data collected on COVID-19 vaccines from the public.
The CDC refused to publish “large portions” of data gathered on COVID-19 vaccines over concerns that it would be “misinterpreted,” according to The New York Times. CDC spokeswoman Kristen Nordlund said that the fear of misrepresentation, along with several other factors, led the government health agency to withhold the information.
Nordlund also said that the data was withheld “because basically, at the end of the day, it’s not yet ready for prime time.”
The CDC, which played a key role in shaping the U.S. COVID-19 response, kept under wraps data regarding the efficacy of COVID-19 vaccines, especially in younger cohorts. The omission forced health and medical experts outside the agency to make recommendations based on Israeli data instead. The Times reported:
The performance of vaccines and boosters, particularly in younger adults, is among the most glaring omissions in data the C.D.C. has made public.
Last year, the agency repeatedly came under fire for not tracking so-called breakthrough infections in vaccinated Americans, and focusing only on individuals who became ill enough to be hospitalized or die. The agency presented that information as risk comparisons with unvaccinated adults, rather than provide timely snapshots of hospitalized patients stratified by age, sex, race and vaccination status.
But the C.D.C. has been routinely collecting information since the Covid vaccines were first rolled out last year, according to a federal official familiar with the effort. The agency has been reluctant to make those figures public, the official said, because they might be misinterpreted as the vaccines being ineffective.
Ms. Nordlund confirmed that as one of the reasons. Another reason, she said, is that the data represents only 10 percent of the population of the United States. But the C.D.C. has relied on the same level of sampling to track influenza for years.
“The CDC’s response when questioned about their withholding of Covid data and lack of transparency is essentially ‘we don’t trust you to be able to understand the truth,’” radiologist and Fox News contributor Nicole Saphier tweeted. “The condescension is palpable. The wheels are finally coming off.”
“People who have blindly trusted the CDC the last 2 years are about to have their world turned upside down as the lack of transparency and manipulation of data become undeniably evident,” she added.
University of California professor Vinay Prasad posted: “All I know is: if you read the studies they are publishing, the reason they aren’t sharing this data is absolutely not that they want to get the analysis right.”
Responding to Prasad, Johns Hopkins’ Marty Makary added: “We’ve been saying this for over a year, but when the NYT discovers what’s happening, then some start to pay attention.”
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