Centers For Disease Control Reliability Takes Another Hit.

With the COVID-19 pandemic, it is fair to say that the United States Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has not performed anywhere close to what people would expect and hope.

Whether it was projections on infection rates, number of people infected, mask effectiveness, and a host of other issues, the CDC was all over the place giving false and inconsistent information.

Yet when the CDC announced that COVID-19 took a year off of the lifespan of people in the US, media outlets ran with it:

Life expectancy in the United States fell by a full year in the first six months of 2020, the federal government reported on Thursday, the largest drop since World War II and a grim measure of the deadly consequences of the coronavirus pandemic.

Life expectancy is the most basic measure of the health of a population, and the stark decline over such a short period is highly unusual and a signal of deep distress. The drop comes after a troubling series of smaller declines driven largely by a surge in drug overdose deaths. A fragile recovery over the past two years has now been wiped out.

Not surprisingly, the report is flawed:

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention made headlines last week when it announced that Covid-19 had reduced the average life expectancy of Americans in 2020 by a full year. The news seemed to starkly illustrate the devastation wrought by our nation’s worst public health crisis in 100 years.

But there was a problem. The pandemic’s appalling toll could not have reduced life span by nearly that much. My own estimate is that when Covid-19’s ravages in 2020 are averaged across the country’s entire population, we each lost about five days of life.

The CDC’s mistake? It calculated life expectancy using an assumption that is assuredly wrong, which yielded a statistic that was certain to be misunderstood. That’s exactly the type of misstep the agency can’t afford to make. Not now, not after former President Trump’s relentless attacks on its credibility. Not after his advisers were caught altering and editing the agency’s monthly reports to downplay the pandemic.

To review: The CDC reported that life expectancy in the U.S. declined by one year in 2020. People understood this to mean that Covid-19 had shaved off a year from how long each of us will live on average. That is, after all, how people tend to think of life expectancy. The New York Times characterized the report as “the first full picture of the pandemic’s effect on American expected life spans.”

But wait. Analysts estimate that, on average, a death from Covid-19 robs its victim of around 12 years of life. Approximately 400,000 Americans died Covid-19 in 2020, meaning about 4.8 million years of life collectively vanished. Spread that ghastly number across the U.S. population of 330 million and it comes out to 0.014 years of life lost per person. That’s 5.3 days. There were other excess deaths in 2020, so maybe the answer is seven days lost per person.

No matter how you look at it, the result is a far cry from what the CDC announced.

We’re not statisticians, and we didn’t stay at some hotel chain last night, but even we realize that there is a difference between one year and seven days.

People rightfully talk about a lack of trust in the government and this is a prime example.

It is inexcusable to try and panic the American people using faulty data and analysis.

Then again, that’s what the CDC has been doing all along.

2 Responses to “Centers For Disease Control Reliability Takes Another Hit.”

  1. george says:

    Among all the evil the CDC does to Americans, I’d bet jacking kids up with the CDC-recommended 60 doses of vaccines by age 5 years, is the reason the number of Americans becoming engineers is shrinking.

    • AAfterwit says:


      Thank you for the comment.

      We are not sure that we are willing to go down the path of what appears to be an “anti-vaxxer” sentiment.

      There are many diseases – polio, small pox, German measles, diphtheria, chicken pox, etc., – that our parents faced that a much less common today because of vaccines.

      What was concerning to us was how badly the CDC botched the COVID-19 by 1) relying on information from the World Health Organization and not doing as much research as they could, 2) the idea that people would panic so they downplayed the whole thing. There is some validity to the second point as look at what happened when COVID took off and people could not find toilet paper.

      Nothing will change until Americans get tired and fed up with governments and government employees thinking they are better than the average person.

      Thanks again for the comment.

      A. Afterwit.