What Don’t the Bureaucrats Want You to Know?

The Centers for Disease Control is a federal bureaucracy and, like all government agencies, is political. CDC employs scientists, but the idea that it is some sort of ivory tower representing “science” is ridiculous.

We are reminded of this fact by an article in the New York Times that Steve referred to briefly earlier today. The article is headlined, “The C.D.C. isn’t publishing large portions of the Covid data it collects.”

For more than a year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has collected data on hospitalizations for Covid-19 in the United States and broken it down by age, race and vaccination status. But it has not made most of the information public.
Two full years into the pandemic, the agency leading the country’s response to the public health emergency has published only a tiny fraction of the data it has collected, several people familiar with the data said.

Much of the withheld information could help state and local health officials better target their efforts to bring the virus under control.

So why hasn’t CDC made public the large majority of the data it has collected, forcing “the outside experts whom federal health agencies look to for advice” to rely on Israeli data? CDC is, after all, a public agency, presumably working for all of us.

Kristen Nordlund, a spokeswoman for the C.D.C., said the agency has been slow to release the different streams of data “because basically, at the end of the day, it’s not yet ready for prime time.” She said the agency’s “priority when gathering any data is to ensure that it’s accurate and actionable.”

Another reason is fear that the information might be misinterpreted, Ms. Nordlund said.

We live in an age in which “misinformation” commonly means information that is inconvenient for the powers that be. Likewise, when CDC says it fears that its own data might be “misinterpreted,” it is reasonable to suspect that this means the data might reasonably be seen as contradicting CDC–i.e., Biden administration–narratives.

But now the case gets interesting, as the Times has updated the linked article twice, on Monday and Tuesday. The final version is considerably longer and is more forthcoming on what might possibly be prone to “misinterpretation.” It includes this paragraph:

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.

We have just lived through a period of intense pressure on everyone, down to small children, to be vaccinated and boosted on the ground that only vaccination can save us all from covid disaster. Vaccine passports have been imposed in many locations, unvaccinated people have been treated as second-class citizens, and many liberals have argued that unvaccinated people should not be treated in hospitals if they become sick.

Now the CDC is telling us that, if you and I had access to all of their data, we likely would *misinterpret* it to indicate that the vaccines don’t work very well. (Independent analysts have already raised such questions based on other data sets.) Who knows, the CDC may also have data indicating that adverse side effects from vaccination are more common than the government has let on.

I don’t know about that, but I do know that I, and a great many others, are perfectly competent to analyze data without “misinterpreting” it. It seems obvious that in this case, “misinterpretation” means drawing conclusions that are unhelpful to the Biden administration, Anthony Fauci, and the Democratic Party. It is long past time for CDC to release the reams of data it has in its possession and let the rest of us argue about what conclusions we should draw from it.

This is a quaint idea: it presupposes a democracy in which bureaucrats actually work for the people who pay their salaries.

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