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Is CDC right to withhold COVID data because it ‘might be misinterpreted’ by the public?

WRITTEN BY
02/23/22
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Fact Box

  • On February 20, 2022, The New York Times reported that the CDC has been withholding COVID data from the public. Kristin Nordlund, a spokeswoman for the CDC said it’s the agency’s “priority when gathering any data is to ensure that it’s accurate and actionable” and that withholding data is also due to “fear that the information might be misinterpreted.”
  • According to a September 2021 Gallup poll, 41% of Americans believe that the CDC has not communicated a clear plan of action in response to the COVID pandemic. 
  • As of February 22, 2022, 214.7 million people have been vaccinated in the United States, with 64.7% fully vaccinated and 76.1% with one dose. 
  • Pfizer-BioNTech released the first COVID vaccine on December 11, 2020 and was officially approved by the FDA on August 23, 2021. 
  • The first case of COVID-19 was reported on December 31, 2019, in Wuhan, China.

Curtice (No)

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has admitted withholding data because it 'could be misinterpreted by the public.' This most likely means one of two things—either the CDC thinks the American people are simply not smart enough to absorb the information the CDC releases to the public. Or the data does not support the COVID recommendations it has pushed for the last two years. Possibly, this assertion means even both.

Being a publicly funded institution answerable to the people, it is wrong for the CDC to withhold data. Likewise, having any data as soon as it's available could help decision-makers (not including the now politicized CDC or Dr. Fauci) make more informed decisions on school closures/openings, mask requirements, vaccine mandates, etc. It's noteworthy that it is the job of medical experts who work for the government to collect data and make recommendations, not make policy. It is the job of the elected officials to make decisions and form policies based on those and other recommendations. Far too often during the pandemic, elected officials have abdicated those responsibilities.

The CDC has an obligation to inform all Americans, not determine what data is fit for public consumption. That is not being transparent, despite the Biden administration's promise of transparency. The CDC is acting more like a political organization than a government agency.

As Dr. Nicole Saphier, a board-certified radiologist, recently said that the CDC has done a 'disservice' to the American people. She further noted that 'the CDC is not a leader when it comes to public health.' They have become an entity wholly concerned with preserving their name, not the health and safety of the people it serves. 


Ethan (Yes)

It is reported there is a mountain of gathered data on COVID-19 vaccines, breakthrough infections, unvaccinated infections, and more the CDC has that it's not publishing. This is all for reasonable precaution. Data of this magnitude takes time to process and organize in a way that makes sense to the public. Although some critics say this data has been collected for a year, a year is not a long time when you consider that we have just passed the one-year anniversary since vaccines were administered in the United States, and this is only the two-year anniversary of the COVID-19 pandemic. While informing the public is an essential role of the CDC, they are likely more focused on getting the data they've collected organized and recorded accurately than they are about releasing it to the public as quickly as possible. 

The CDC isn't permanently withholding the information. They simply plan on releasing it when it is most accurate and easily understandable by the public. Throughout the pandemic, the CDC released information that was constantly debated and argued amongst the public. In choosing to withhold COVID-19 information now until it is 'accurate and actionable,' as Kristen Nordlund, a spokeswoman for the CDC, puts it, the CDC is preventing people from getting the information until it is in its best and most accurate state. This will decrease the number of people who panic over the stats and limit the number of people who can start arguments over the data to try and claim vaccines are ineffective—something many people and sources have done to create anti-vaccine sentiment through intentional misrepresentation of information.

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