All-time pediatric deaths from COVID-19 reported on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's COVID Data Tracker plummeted nearly 24% after the agency resolved a "coding logic error" on Wednesday.
The CDC's COVID Data Tracker had presented a misleading impression prior to the fix that children were dying at a sharply amplified rate amid the omicron surge earlier this year. The tool had reported 1,755 all-time deaths from children ages 0 to 17 on Tuesday, with 738 of the deaths occurring during the first 10 weeks of 2022.
"On March 15, 2022, data on deaths were adjusted after resolving a coding logic error. This resulted in decreased death counts across all demographic categories," the data tracker said.
CDC spokeswoman Jasmine Reed told the Washington Examiner the agency's algorithm was accidentally counting non-COVID-related deaths in the data tracker.
"An adjustment was made to COVID Data Tracker’s mortality data on March 14 involving the removal of 72,277 - including 416 pediatric deaths - deaths previously reported across 26 states because CDC’s algorithm was accidentally counting deaths that were not COVID-19-related," Reed said. "Working with near real-time data in an emergency is critical to guide decision-making, but may also mean we often have incomplete information when data are first reported."
Prior to the fix, the CDC's data had been used as the basis for articles published late last week by the Guardian and the New York Post that reported as many as a third of all child deaths from COVID-19 had occurred since the beginning of 2022 amid the omicron surge.
"Children seem to be facing increasing risks as mask mandates are abandoned and vaccination rates stall," the Guardian reported.
The article received a substantial amendment late Thursday after the reporter behind the piece deleted multiple tweets citing the CDC.
The article now cites data from the CDC's weekly provisional data on COVID-19 deaths, which is based on death certificate data and states that 921 children ages 0 to 17 had deaths "involving COVID-19" since the start of the pandemic, a figure significantly smaller than the figure reported by the CDC's COVID Data Tracker.
I have deleted the following tweets after the CDC changed its numbers on deaths from Covid, including pediatric deaths, in order to stop the spread of any inaccurate information. I am following up with the CDC about this change and what it means for their data tracking. pic.twitter.com/MlmIvxkXc3— Melody Schreiber (@m_scribe) March 17, 2022
The CDC came under fire for its lack of transparency surrounding COVID-19 data in late February after the New York Times reported that the agency had published only a small portion of the data it had collected on hospitalizations, vaccines, and wastewater analysis in part because it feared the information might have been misinterpreted by the public.
Sen. Ron Johnson, a Wisconsin Republican, railed against the CDC in a March 1 letter for its "disturbing and shameful" lack of transparency surrounding COVID-19 data.
"In the midst of a pandemic, it is unacceptable that CDC would withhold relevant data on COVID-19 that could inform the public and potentially save lives," Johnson wrote to CDC Director Rochelle Walensky.
"Throughout the pandemic, CDC and other health agencies have promoted inconsistent policies and recommendations regarding COVID-19," Johnson said. "Many Americans who voiced concerns about these policies have been subjected to ridicule, vilification, and censorship from the press."
"Rather than provide the public with complete access to relevant data to justify its COVID-19 policies, the Biden Administration has apparently favored censorship over transparency," Johnson added.