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Vaccination Data

New York Times Op-Ed: Pandemic Data Is a Mess

Coronavirus Resource Center experts detailed lack of data uniformity and the urgent need for a fix

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May 17, 2021

Two of the Johns Hopkins University experts who have been leading the Coronavirus Resource Center sounded the alarm about the lack of standardized COVID-19 data in November 2020 in this New York Times op-ed.

The essay by Beth Blauer, associate vice provost for Public Sector Innovation, and Jennifer Nuzzo, senior scholar at the Center for Health Security, helped to inspire the mission for what has become the Pandemic Data Initiative.

“The United States is more than eight months into the pandemic and people are back waiting in long lines to be tested as coronavirus infections surge again,” wrote Blauer and Nuzzo. “And yet there is still no federal standard to ensure testing results are being uniformly reported. Without uniform results, it is impossible to track cases accurately or respond effectively.”

Both Blauer and Nuzzo have been steeped in the patchwork of U.S. COVID-19 data for the entire pandemic, primarily through their roles as data lead and epidemiology lead, respectively, for the Coronavirus Resource Center.

“Without a standard, states are deciding to calculate positivity rates on their own -- and their approaches are very different,” they wrote.

The concerns they raised about the lack of uniform testing data quickly became an issue for other vital metrics, especially demographics in cases, deaths, and vaccinations.