The United States is a global leader in healthcare with exceptional hospitals, tremendous research capability, and billions in funding for medical research. Yet during the COVID-19 pandemic, our health agencies could not provide the detailed, concise data Americans needed to make decisions about their health and the health of their families. As I have pointed out, we know that 40% of the whitetail deer in Michigan have COVID-19 antibodies. We have no idea how many children under 12 have them.
Yet now that the FDA has granted full approval of the BioNTech COVID-19, TV doctors are in a frenzy over when the program can begin vaccinating children. Recently, CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said children from the ages of five to 11 could be eligible to receive vaccines as soon as November. If you asked her, she would not be able to tell you with any precision how many children in this group have already recovered from COVID-19. Based on the CDC’s only study on natural immunity, she might tell you that data doesn’t matter.
Dr. Marty Makary, a professor of medicine and surgeon at Johns Hopkins, wrote a scathing editorial in the Wall Street Journal pointing out the lack of actionable data coming out of our healthcare bureaucracies. He noted that our agencies based their recommendations about booster shots on data from Israel.
The Biden administration recently got the supporting data it needed to justify its booster plan. But not from the CDC. Another Israeli study showed that a booster resulted in a 10-fold reduction in severe Covid illness in people over 60. The results were published mere weeks after the study’s completion, not months later as often happens in the U.S.
According to Makary, the CDC has 21,000 employees and an annual budget of $15 billion. He pointed out it also has data on more than 40 million Americans who tested positive for COVID-19 and the 200 million who are vaccinated. The CDC stopped tracking breakthrough infections on May 1, 2021, unless the patient was hospitalized or died. So, while data from individual states like Connecticut and local reporting indicate breakthrough cases are rising as they did in Israel and the UK, the CDC does not either collect or report this data clearly and concisely.
“Calculating the rate of U.S. breakthrough infections and subsequent hospitalizations and deaths isn’t the Manhattan Project,” Makary wrote. “It’s Epidemiology 101.” Even The Atlantic reported the quality of the data on hospitalizations is not granular enough to give an accurate picture of how many Americans are suffering from a severe illness from COVID-19. Blanket testing and failure to develop criteria to indicate when a patient is suffering from severe symptoms related to COVID-19 and not a comorbidity cloud the data.
Israel’s dashboard clearly notes severe cases. Looking at the summary statistics, it is clear that there are 662 patients with severe illness related to COVID-19 in Israeli hospitals today. Of these, 259 are critically ill and 195 are on respirators. The United States is the epicenter of the technology revolution, in addition to being an innovative leader in healthcare. The idea that we can’t figure out how to collect appropriate healthcare data in an anonymized fashion quickly and accurately is beyond embarrassing.
Makary did not just point out the failure of the CDC to provide detailed and timely analysis. He questioned the agency’s integrity. According to his analysis, 15 studies are showing robust and durable natural immunity. Yet in the U.S., political and public health leaders stick to their original opinion that natural immunity is temporary. The CDC study showing that natural immunity is inferior to vaccination was pretty weak, and Makary said so.
The CDC did put out a study on natural immunity last month, forcefully concluding that vaccinated immunity was 2.3 times better than natural immunity. The CDC used these results to justify telling those with natural immunity to get vaccinated.
But the rate of infection in each group was less than 0.01%, meaning infections were exceedingly rare in the short two-month time period the agency chose to study. This is odd, given there are more than a year of data available. Moreover, despite having data on all 50 states, the CDC only reported data from Kentucky. Was Kentucky the only state that produced the desired result? Why else exclude the same data from the other 49 states?
By contrast, Israel’s natural immunity study included data from one of the nation’s four health insurance providers, including more than 700,000 records of people 16 and older. It also used data for the duration of the pandemic and found 23 symptomatic COVID-19 infections among recovered unvaccinated Israelis out of approximately 14,000. No hospitalizations occurred among recovered patients due to reinfection.
The nation’s research on vaccinating children is robust as well. Israeli researchers found a single dose of Pfizer in children between the ages of 12 and 15 was 100% effective. The heart-related side effects seen in this age group cluster around the second dose, so this finding could be lifesaving.
Makary closed by saying, “These are the studies U.S. public health agencies should be doing but aren’t. By any metric, the CDC has failed in its primary task of preparing the country for a pandemic and telling us how to reduce harm from the novel Covid pathogen.” Here’s hoping that Israel keeps leading the way with rigor and transparency.
WATCH Dr. Marty Makary reiterate his criticism of the CDC on “Tucker Carlson Tonight”:
Johns Hopkins surgeon Dr. Marty Makary rips the CDC for its lack of Covid-19 research & data and for ignoring natural immunity:
"We had a vacuum of good data to answer those questions and, as a result, political opinions filled that vacuum." pic.twitter.com/rEygivZlFu
— Scott Morefield (@SKMorefield) September 14, 2021