Politics

Why is the CDC hiding so much COVID data? – HotAir


Multiple explanations for the agency’s concealment are offered in this piece, all of them doubtless true. The CDC is a bureaucracy and bureaucracies are famously slow to move. The CDC’s data-processing abilities are outdated, the casualty of a federal government that wasn’t prepared for a pandemic. The CDC in some cases is relying on partial data and doesn’t want to publicize information it isn’t fully confident in.

But the most obvious explanation is a familiar one. The CDC doesn’t trust the public to responsibly interpret data about subjects that have been as bitterly politicized as COVID and the vaccines.

Which is understandable given that a cottage industry of anti-vax propaganda now exists online. But it’s no excuse. If you’ve got numbers and you have reason to believe they’re reliable, your first duty as a public health agency during a health crisis should be to share them with the public. It’s not “the CDC’s data,” after all. It’s ours.

The Times is vague about the nature of the agency’s worries but they’re clear enough if you know the basic outlines of the attacks on the vaccines:

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.

What information about the vaccines would the CDC fear might be misinterpreted? This image captures it succinctly:

Count the dots in the black circle and you’ll find that more vaccinated than unvaccinated people are hospitalized in that hypothetical population. Does that “prove” that the vaccines don’t work? It does not. It proves that the vaccines aren’t perfect, especially in those with underlying conditions, which means that as the population of vaccinated people grows and grows we should expect that eventually the total number of vaccinated people hospitalized with COVID will exceed the number of unvaccinated who are.

But percentage-wise, you’re waaaaaay more likely to end up in the hospital if you’re unvaccinated than vaccinated:

Half the unvaxxed group in the visual illustration above ends up needing hospital care after catching COVID whereas something like 10-20 percent of the vaxxed group does. But if the CDC put out raw numbers showing there are more vaccinated people than unvaccinated in hospitals right now, that would be the lead story on Tucker Carlson that evening and a hot topic on Joe Rogan’s next podcast, cited as “evidence” that the vaccines not only don’t work but that they might make people more prone to catching COVID.

Ask doctors whether they work:

Infectious disease doctors say it is still mainly unvaccinated people, most of whom are in their 30s and 40s with no underlying health issues, who are dying.

“The vast majority of patients — anywhere from 75% and greater — we’re seeing is primarily unvaccinated individuals who are getting COVID and wind up in the hospital severely ill and are currently dying,” Dr. Mahdee Sobhanie, an assistant professor of internal medicine and an infectious diseases physician at The Ohio State University, told ABC News.

Again, none of this excuses the CDC for suppressing the data. The public has a right to it. But let’s not pretend that opportunists won’t eagerly distort it to press their case to fencesitters that vaccination is more dangerous than the alternative.

It’s not just hospitalizations and vaccination status that the CDC has been coy about, though. Per the Times, they’re also sitting on information about breakthrough infections, the effect of boosters on young and middle-aged adults, and the number of infected children in the hospital. My guess is that:

— the number of breakthrough infections is higher than the public might expect (although by now, post-Omicron, it’s well known that the vaccinated get infected)

— boosters provide some added protection for younger people but not as much as they do for older ones, raising the question of whether boosters are necessary for all

— most infected children who need ER care are being hospitalized “with” COVID rather than “for” COVID, testing positive while they’re at the hospital for unrelated conditions

If I’m right about the CDC’s motives then the agency is playing psychological games with the public, not unlike Fauci warning early on that masks didn’t work. They want everyone to get vaccinated, partly to reduce the load on hospitals but also to reduce transmission in the community, which vaccines still help with (but not nearly as much as they did against Alpha a year ago). So, to head off false anti-vax claims that the shots don’t work and to maximize people’s incentives to go out and get vaccinated even if they’re at low risk, they’re sticking all of this data in a drawer.

That’s not the way a public health authority should do business, no matter how obnoxious the misinformation they’re faced with is. In particular, by not emphasizing how small the risk of severe illness to children is, the CDC has guaranteed that risk-averse liberals will want to go on masking their kids indefinitely despite the cost to their development.

In lieu of an exit question, read this frightening WaPo report about an expected “tidal wave of cardiovascular events in the coming years from direct and indirect causes of COVID.” Scientists have been struck by how many COVID patients have experienced strange heart problems in the months after recovery, from inexplicably elevated heartbeats to arrhythmias to cardiomyopathy to more serious complications. The leading theories to explain it are that the virus is damaging heart cells, forcing the muscle to pump harder, or that it’s damaging blood vessels via inflammation and blood clotting. A momentous question is whether there’s any disparity between vaccinated and unvaccinated people who’ve been infected in terms of their risk of future heart issues. If there is, that’s another reason to get the shots. If there isn’t, count on the CDC to suppress that information.




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