Washington, D.C. — House Energy and Commerce Committee Republican Leader Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA), Subcommittee on Health Republican Leader Brett Guthrie (R-KY), and Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations Republican Leader Morgan Griffith (R-VA) sent a letter to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Rochelle Walensky on Tuesday, regarding the CDC’s decision not to collect data on breakthrough cases of SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) among Americans unless the breakthrough cases result in hospitalization or death.
WHY IT MATTERS: Ensuring the CDC and other decision-makers have the best information to combat the pandemic is key to our national response.
KEY: On May 1, 2021, the CDC transitioned from monitoring all reported vaccine breakthrough cases and began to focus on identifying and investigating only hospitalized or fatal cases due to any cause. The three leaders share the concern that this decision has led the CDC to make decisions based on limited or unreliable data. Providing decision makers with better, more complete data and information on breakthrough infections is essential as we continue to respond to this evolving pandemic, especially with the ongoing spread of the more infectious Delta variant.
LETTER EXCERPT: “Because the CDC decided to not collect information about all breakthrough infections in the U.S., we do not have a full understanding of the total number and characteristics of all the breakthrough infections that are occurring across the U.S., including how many breakthrough cases have occurred; where, geographically, the breakthrough infections are occurring; which variants are causing the breakthrough infections; which vaccine the individuals who are experiencing breakthrough cases received, when the individuals were vaccinated; who may be more susceptible to breakthrough infections; what symptoms these individuals are experiencing, if any; how many asymptomatic cases are occurring; and whether these individuals are experiencing long-COVID symptoms after they recover. These are all critical pieces of information that would help us better understand how the pandemic is evolving in the U.S. and how we can respond more effectively.”
“We are still in the midst of a global pandemic, and national, state, local, and tribal leaders as well as vaccine developers are having to make decisions about how best to protect Americans against COVID-19. In addition, the threat that COVID-19 poses to our nation continues to evolve. For example, the situation we were facing in April is very different than the situation we are currently facing due to the Delta variant. Providing decision-makers with better, more complete data and information on breakthrough infections will be essential as they continue to respond to this evolving pandemic.”
The leaders requested a briefing from the CDC on their data collection of COVID-19 breakthrough infections by October 12, 2021, including:
- CDC’s decision to stop monitoring all reported breakthrough infections of COVID-19;
- Why this decision helps maximize the quality of data collected on cases of greatest clinical and public health importance;
- What data the CDC uses to estimate the percentage of breakthrough cases of COVID-19 that led to hospitalization or death compared to those that do not require hospitalization; and
- If the CDC plans to revise this decision and resume collecting data on and monitoring all breakthrough infections of COVID-19 in the U.S. given the characteristics of the Delta variant in vaccinated individuals.
CLICK HERE to read the letter to Director Walensky.