Controversies Rock CDC
Senate Hearing Examines Continuing Response To Covid-19 WASHINGTON, DC - NOVEMBER 04: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Rochelle Walensky testifies before the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee about the ongoing response to the COVID-19 pandemic in the Dirksen Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill on November 04, 2021 in Washington, DC. Earlier this week Walensky gave final approval for the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine for children between 5 and 11 years old. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images) Chip Somodevilla / Staff
Chip Somodevilla/Staff/Getty Images

As Americans wait to hear about renewed guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), particularly on masking and school policies, the agency is facing increased scrutiny – even from those who have been its defenders in the past.

The CDC is coming under some heavy criticism for a few issues. First, it is facing criticism over its guidance on school masking. While the CDC has been fairly quick to make many recommendations throughout the pandemic, their reluctance to update masking and school guidance is sparking criticism. Governors and school districts across the country are relaxing their rules, but the CDC hasn’t moved yet.

Perhaps the most significant issue the agency is facing, however, is the CDC’s transparency with their own data. 

As The Daily Wire reported, “U.S. states rely heavily on COVID-19 data collected by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), but the agency isn’t publishing large amounts of the data it collects.”

A new report from The New York Times highlights the important COVID-19 data the CDC has been withholding from officials and the public.

“The C.D.C. 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, said, per 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 C.D.C.”

The Times reported this week that while the CDC has gathered data for COVID-19 hospitalization in the U.S. for over a year – and categorized it by race, vaccination status, and age – it hasn’t publicized most of that data. They’ve also not educated the public in general on key questions, which has led to a lot of confusion.

The CDC first put out the main data on boosters in adults younger than 65 a few weeks ago, but it didn’t include figures for 18 to 49 year olds. Since that is the age group least likely to need a booster, some viewed it as suspicious. Outside experts had to use figures from Israel to provide advice on the boosters.

Spokeswoman for the CDC Kristen Nordlund said the agency has been slow to put out different data “because basically, at the end of the day, it’s not yet ready for prime time.” She said the CDC’s “priority when gathering any data is to ensure that it’s accurate and actionable. She also said they are afraid the data could be misinterpreted.

Last year, the CDC was criticized because they weren’t looking into breakthrough infections in all vaccinated Americans, and only dialed in on people who got sick enough to be in the hospital or die from COVID-19. They didn’t put that hospitalization data into groupings by age, sex, race and vaccination status in a timely way, but instead made it more of a discussion about the risk compared with unvaccinated adults.

An official told The Times the CDC has been gathering data since the COVID-19 vaccines were first launched last year, but they don’t want to make those numbers public because people might think the data means the vaccines don’t work. Nordlund confirmed this, per The Times. She also said that the data only make up 10% of the U.S. population, but The Times pointed out that the CDC has used that same sampling amount to record influenza for years.

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