“We don’t have any faith in the numbers on the CDC website, and we never refer to them,” James Garrow, a spokesman for the Philadelphia Department of Public Health, told Bloomberg News.
The Centers for Disease Control has been overcounting the number of partially vaccinated Americans by counting booster shots and second doses as first doses.
The practical impact of the CDC’s incompetence is troubling. It’s likely several million more Americans than thought did not receive even one shot of the vaccine and are not vaccinated at all. And it points to the chaos and dysfunction present at the CDC during the time when their expertise was desperately needed to navigate through the pandemic.
According to the report, the CDC last week revised the number of people 65 years old or older who had been partially vaccinated from 99% to 95%. The alteration, however, did not change the raw shot totals, according to Bloomberg.
Bloomberg reported that officials at the state and local levels have been sounding the alarm, claiming it’s unlikely that 37 million received a first vaccine dose but did not return for their second dose. The 11 point gap between fully vaccinated and partially vaccinated in the US is larger than in other developed countries, according to the report.
State and local officials claim that the problem stems from the “fragmentation” of the U.S. healthcare system — no centralized control to make record-keeping easier. But lack of centralization is not the problem; lack of competence is. Pennsylvania has already revised its number of fully vaccinated adults downward by 500,000.
On Tuesday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that 73.7% of commonwealth residents who were 18 or older had passed this mark. On Wednesday, the day before the holiday weekend, that number was adjusted to 68.9% — a difference of more than 488,000 adults.
It’s unclear exactly how the error occurred. Pennsylvania’s health department sends its data to the CDC, but the state says it continues to refine its data and remove duplicate information, a process it started in July.
You might expect revisions of 1% or less. But Pennsylvania numbers dropped by more than 5 percent!
Three states — Illinois, Pennsylvania and West Virginia — found enough over-counting of first shots to indicate millions of unvaccinated people had mistakenly been counted as having received a dose.
Pennsylvania had one of the biggest gaps identified, according to Bloomberg, where the CDC’s estimates of first doses for people 65 and older exceeded state estimates by about 850,000.
Illinois had more than 500,000 completely unvaccinated people ages 12 and up than initially thought. But the audit also found 730,000 people who were fully vaccinated and hadn’t been counted.
These are not small errors. It makes one wonder whether the CDC record-keepers have entered the computer age. Maybe they’re still using abacuses.
More likely, the CDC is living down to every negative expectation we have of government workers. There are certainly many dedicated, intelligent, competent people working there. But there appear to be even more dullards and clockwatchers — many of them in positions of authority.
Not all government workers are where they are because they couldn’t make it in the private sector. But you have to wonder if the CDC isn’t overrepresented in that category.