COVID-19: CDC Pleads Mea Culpa

By Fred Lipfert, PhD and Sheldon Lipsky — Aug 23, 2022
“The CDC has to change.” Those are the words of the Centers for Disease Control’s director, Dr. Rochelle Walensky as she announced a reorganization and change in leadership stemming from its flawed handling of the coronavirus pandemic. But, will such a shake-up lead to a shape-up? We have our doubts.
Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

What has CDC done right? Major accomplishments include:

  • Creation and daily updates of a detailed national database on COVID-19 metrics, including cases, hospitalizations, deaths, and vaccination rates.
  • Participation in Operation Warp Speed to develop and deploy vaccines nationally.
  • Identification of new virus variants as they occur.

In our opinion, CDC’s mask mandates and exposure guidelines are not major accomplishments, nor do their Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Reports (MMWR) that seem to be destined more for internal consumption rather than public information.

What has CDC overlooked or done wrong?

  • CDC has not published epidemiological evidence of the efficacy of face masking in realistic public settings, despite its various mandates. Evidence from laboratory testing under controlled conditions is no more relevant than factory testing of automotive seat belts. The public has no assurance that this inconvenience is indeed effective and under what conditions.
  • CDC has not recognized rates of decline in vaccine efficacy and immunity levels, not acknowledging the need for multiple vaccinations, given the persistence of the virus with no end in sight.
  • The CDC’s measure of vaccination precludes reaching near-universal coverage since it has gone from two to three and even four shots to complete “the series.”
  • CDC has not considered the virus in the environment. Wastewater monitoring is a more practical way to estimate community-wide infection trends than testing individuals.
  • CDC has not considered monitoring indoor airborne virus levels in public spaces similar to current monitoring of smoke or CO2.
  • CDC reports on COVID trends have not accounted for the lag of deaths following infections.
  • CDC epidemiology tends to focus on surveys and selected cohorts rather than real populations. As a result, the substantial variations among states and metropolitan areas remain unrecognized, precluding focused abatement efforts.

Who are we to challenge the nation’s premier 21,000-employee public health agency? We are long-retired engineers and expert number-crunchers with just enough scientific background to know which numbers to crunch. For the past 27 months, we have published a series of 60 brief original research articles on COVID-19 and related topics, enough for a medium-sized book. We have written for ACSH because they allow us to get to print in a few days rather than the 6-12 months from submission to print in journals or even pre-print sites.


Our COVID-19 findings speak for themselves, and we encourage ACSH readers to check them out.