The CDC has been a frequent target for criticism over its response to COVID-19. Now, as a New York Times report highlights, the criticism is shifting to focus on how the agency is failing to communicate, including withholding an eyebrow-raising amount of vitally important data.
The CDC has only published a tiny fraction of the data it has collected since the onset of the pandemic two years ago, holding back significant data and information that could have supported local officials in targeting their pandemic mitigation efforts.
For example, the agency is only now sharing wastewater data with the public, despite having access to state wastewater information since the beginning of the pandemic. Additionally, it has collected hospitalization data according to age, race, and COVID-19 vaccination status for over a year, but most of the information hasn’t been released. Their report on the effectiveness of booster shots in adults under 65 years of age, published two weeks ago, completely omitted all data for 18- to 49-year-olds, a massive gap.
According to one CDC official, Dr. Daniel Jernigan, the pandemic revealed how outdated many of the data systems at health agencies had become. According to CDC spokeswoman Kristen Nordlund, the slow release of withheld data has been because “at the end of the day, it’s not yet ready for prime time” and that much of the data could have been misunderstood.