Kevin Bae

Non-Social in a Socially Networked World

CDC gets “The Science” from New York Times infographics

Do you wonder why we should continue to trust “The Science”?

“The initial COVID-19 strain had an R0 between two and three,” computational biologist Karthik Gangavarapu told NPR. The delta variant has an R0 between six and seven. For chickenpox, the R0 is nine or 10.

How did the CDC conclude that these were equivalent?

For one, the leaked document underestimated the R0 for chickenpox and overestimated the R0 for the delta variant. “The R0 values for delta were preliminary and calculated from data taken from a rather small sample size,” a federal official told NPR. The value for the chickenpox (and other R0s in the slideshow) came from a graphic from The New York Times, which wasn’t completely accurate.

Apparently, the federal agency charged with disseminating COVID-19 data and setting public health policy is taking its cues from a newspaper infographic. Oh my.