U.S. data collection on COVID-19 is pathetic: Expert – Yahoo Finance
Top U.S. health officials laid out a plan to roll out booster shots for the general population, in a somewhat phased manner based on initial vaccinations, starting September 20.
But before then, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) must look through data and evaluate for safety and effectiveness.
The announcement from the White House Wednesday sparked debate over whether or not it was the right move.
On one hand, the U.S has a little over half of its population vaccinated, while poorer countries aren’t even able to get their first doses to the most vulnerable of their population.
“We can take care of America and help the world at the same time,” Biden said. And the country is on track to deliver on 600 million doses globally.
Meanwhile, early data from the U.S. as well as Israel and the U.K. show a slow decline in protection — especially with the fast-spreading Delta variant — after 6-8 months.
A joint statement from health officials at Heath and Human Services (HHS), the CDC, FDA, the National Institutes of Health, the U.S. Surgeon General and the COVID-19 Health Equity Task Force, explained the conclusion of reviewing the emerging data.
“The available data make very clear that protection against SARS-CoV-2 infection begins to decrease over time following the initial doses of vaccination, and in association with the dominance of the Delta variant, we are starting to see evidence of reduced protection against mild and moderate disease. Based on our latest assessment, the current protection against severe disease, hospitalization, and death could diminish in the months ahead, especially among those who are at higher risk,” according to the statement.
“I was against boosters, but the data I think are becoming abundantly clear that they could be helpful in this situation,” said Topol, Scripps Research Institute executive vice president and scientist.
One need look no further than Israel, now among the worst affected countries in fighting COVID-19, after once enjoying a zero-case period, Topol added.
“If we don’t build back the Delta immunity wall — this is specific to Delta, we never saw this problem in the previous strains — we’re going to be in for trouble,” he said. “We don’t have our house in order,” Topol said.
And that extends beyond the battle against anti-vaxxers and other impediments to increasing the U.S. vaccination rate. Experts have criticized the CDC for not being able to efficiently collect the necessary data at the federal level — instead largely relying on a network of state and local providers.
“Our data collection is, frankly, pathetic … And we’re not functioning as a functional country,” Topol said.
In order for the country to emerge from the pandemic, it must act swiftly on new data, but also strike a balance in its actions, he said.
“It’s time to be ahead of this, rather than trailing it. If you’re look for some peer-reviewed publications and journals, it’s going to be many weeks before we see that,” Topol said.