As the Chinese coronavirus continues to be a lingering problem for the United States, the Biden Administration is now allegedly seeking to redefine the meaning of “hospitalizations” when it comes to the disease.
As reported by Politico, two anonymous government officials claim that a task force has been established at the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), consisting of scientists and data specialists, working with hospitals around the country to reassess previous totals of so-called “hospitalizations.” The task force is now asking hospitals to retroactively separate cases of people hospitalized as a direct result of COVID-19 from those who were hospitalized for other reasons, only to later test positive for the virus.
Previously, anyone who was found to have the coronavirus was automatically listed as a case and added to the overall total of hospitalizations, even if they were asymptomatic or suffering from other ailments besides the virus. This broad categorization has led to widespread criticism and accusations of artificially inflating the overall number of COVID-related hospitalizations and deaths in order to cause a greater panic among the population.
But trying to recalculate the numbers will prove difficult, especially on such a large scale. Eric Topol, a professor of molecular medicine with Scripps Research, noted that in order to undertake such a recalculation, “you need a panel of experts to review the cases to adjudicate if a hospitalization is for a person who came in for Covid or with Covid.”
“It’s not something that is coded in the chart,” Topol continued. “A lot of people will say an individual came in with Covid, but it was actually the Covid that exacerbated the lung or heart disease.”
A senior official with Health and Human Services (HHS) similarly acknowledged the difficulty of such a reassessment, noting that “while the guidance and intent of the hospital data collection is to capture people who are admitted for Covid (vs with Covid), in practice the data reported varies by entity.”
“Some entities may be able to delineate,” the official added, “but we do not do this in the national dataset.”
The shift comes amidst varying reactions to the ongoing South Africa variant, also known as the “Omicron variant.” While it has been largely described as less deadly than the India variant (also known as “Delta”), it is also understood to be more contagious. Hospitalizations appear to have risen as a result, with CDC Director Rochelle Walensky describing the rates as “quite high.” Data compiled by the CDC claims that hospitalizations are, in fact, higher under Omicron than they were under Delta.