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cdc vs. the delta variant

The problem with the CDC's 'retrospective' data reporting

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Thursday noted that some frequently-cited COVID-19 statistics don't account for prevalent Delta variant data, leaving health experts lamenting the country's reporting abilities and calling for increased tracking infrastructure. 

Although CDC Director Rochelle Walensky emphasized that hospitalizations and deaths are "overwhelmingly" among unvaccinated people, she said during a COVID-19 briefing that the agency's current breakthrough case hospitalization and death statistics are actually from January to June, and don't "reflect the data we have now from the Delta variant." Walensky added that the CDC is "actively working" to update the numbers in the context of the variant.

In response to that revelation, Dr. Eric Topol called on the CDC to begin partitioning all data before and after Delta became the dominant strain. The fact that such measures are not yet available "is yet another serious issue of our tracking deficiency," he said.

Former FDA commissioner Scott Gottlieb also noted that the CDC's reporting is traditionally "very retrospective," and called for "the equivalent of a JSOC for public health info, a capability that surfaces analysis to inform in real time, even if it's only partially predictive." He added that "some information is better than an info vacuum in a crisis."

However, there is reportedly some relevant Delta data available — and it still views the trends surrounding breakthrough cases favorably for most vaccinated people.

It could very well be just one larger messaging problem