The CDC has admitted it is withholding large portions of COVID-19 data — including on vaccine boosters — from the public because it fears the information could be misinterpreted.
The leading public health agency has only published a small sample of the data it has been collecting — despite being two years into the pandemic, sources told the New York Times.
Kristen Nordlund, a CDC spokeswoman, said the reason for the slow release of data is “because basically, at the end of the day, it’s not yet ready for prime time.”
She added that the CDC’s “priority when gathering any data is to ensure that it’s accurate and actionable.”
But another reason is that the data could be misinterpreted by the public, Nordlund admitted.
Among the data that has been collected but not made public is hospitalizations broken down by age, race and vaccination status over the last year and information on the effectiveness of booster shots.
When the CDC released data on the effectiveness of boosters for adults younger than 65 two weeks ago, it did not include full numbers on those between 18 and 49.
That data showed the booster shots were least likely to benefit younger adults because two shots of the Moderna or Pfizer vaccines, or one dose of Johnson & Johnson, already left them well protected.
The CDC has also only just started releasing data on whether COVID is present in wastewater — even though some states have been providing figures since the beginning of the pandemic. Wastewater data can help public health officials predict whether there will be an influx of COVID-19 cases.
According to one CDC official, Dr. Daniel Jernigan, the COVID pandemic has revealed how outdated the agency and other state-level health systems had become.