Irish Vaccine Samizdat

A friend in Ireland sent me this meme, which is widely circulating on WhatsApp:

This is a counterpoint to Irish media pieces such as “Ireland will face severe Covid lockdown if people behave irresponsibly, O’Dea says”. See also “Irish Deputy PM says the 5% of the nation’s unvaccinated population is causing a problem” (CNN).

What has Ireland gained for its 21 months of trench warfare against SARS-CoV-2? On April 28, 2020, the New York Times used Ireland as a reference point for Sweden’s COVID-19-tagged death rate and they were roughly equal. On the COVID-19 death rate leaderboard, Ireland now sits 9 places below give-the-finger-to-the-virus Sweden. For folks who measure a society’s success by the single number of cumulative COVID-19 death rate, this makes Ireland’s 21 months of living under restrictions well worth it. The trend, however, is for Ireland and Sweden to converge on this grim statistic.

(Unlike Facebook, WhatsApp doesn’t seem to correct COVID-19 wrongthink. The 94% vaccinated stat above might look like it needs correction, but I think that, like many other Europeans, the Irish measure vaccination rate by looking at the percentage of people who are eligible for a vaccine, not by looking at the percentage of all humans, including those too young to be eligible, for example.)

Is meme consistent with official data? From the Google:

Note that “Irish lockdown” is pretty much the opposite of a Maskachusetts lockdown. In Ireland, schools remained open and generally unmasked while adults could not travel more than 2 km from their houses (enforced with police checkpoints), could not gather and drink alcohol, etc. In Boston, on the other hand, the public schools were essentially closed for 18 months while watering holes for adults, alcohol stores, and marijuana shops remained open. Adults could drive 30 miles from their homes at any hour of the day or night to meet a new friend from Tinder.


35 thoughts on “Irish Vaccine Samizdat

  1. I’m pretty sure the 94% is of all cases, and that the percentage vaccinated among those hospitalized and in ICU is FAR lower.

    • Michael: That’s what the Irish Prime Minister is saying (see the above-quoted headline: “Irish Deputy PM says the 5% of the nation’s unvaccinated population is causing a problem”). It is the 5 percenters who are causing all of the problems. If the hospitals are roughly as full as they were in the pre-vaccination days and everyone in the hospital with COVID-19 is unvaccinated, isn’t the logical conclusion that we’ve bred a form of the virus that is 20X as bad?

    • Thanks for the links. Note that Ireland still has a lower cumulative death rate tagged to COVID-19, which could be partly due to having a younger population than Sweden has. So for the folks who say that the only relevant metric for a society’s success if COVID-19 death rate, Ireland is actually “doing better.” And if they stay home for the next 100 years, that will still be considered “doing better” than Sweden, so long as the death rate remains a little lower.

    • This could be due to the fact that people with preexisting conditions are more eager to get vaccinated (I’m against mandatory vaccination, but I think that is the more likely reason).

    • Problem with that theory is overall deaths are up. “Vaccinated people under 60 are twice as likely to die as unvaccinated people. And overall deaths in Britain are running well above normal.”
      All cause mortality is up from peak nonvaccine existing covid 19 days. Most vaccinated countries hardest hit. Look at all the sudden deaths of athletes and normal 40-50 year old and sudden deaths of children. That ain’t normal and there is only one explanation. Not many are willing to accept it, it will take awhile to sink in.

    • This is a comment from the site you cite (a very good one):
      “One reason not to draw too much of a conclusion is that 10 to 59 is a really, really broad age group, and the underlying death rate at the top of that group will be much higher than at the bottom.
      If the vaccination is also unevenly distributed in that group (and you would imagine the vaccination rate to be much lower among 10 year-olds than 59 year-olds) that would probably provide a sufficient explanation.
      Before everyone piles on, I am opposed to mass vaccination, to mandates, to (most) child vaccination against Covid, and all the fascist tyranny being imposed on the back of this slightly worse than normal respiratory disease. It’s just that I work in clinical research and we come across all the time things like this that look like something but very often aren’t when you dig deeper.
      Those of us pushing back need to be scrupulously careful with data and the analysis thereof, the exact opposite of what the propagandists do.

  2. What is your fucking solution? You keep pointing out statistics that say what countries are doing isn’t working and can’t possibly work so why do it? Are you saying we should just live with all the death from covid-19 and get over it?

    • I think that’s exactly the point. It doesn’t seem like anything any government does has any affect on the kung-flu. So yes I suppose we should just live with all of the death and get over it. Do you have any better ideas?

    • philg has been pointing out for at least a year that Sweden’s approach has worked and is now showing its benefits, i.e., currently extremely low case numbers and fatalities.

      This comes at a cost of a slightly higher cumulative death rate, which can have multiple reasons (vulnerable people are kept alive for 6 more months by lockdowns, or the population structure is different, or …).

      If Sweden’s approach can still be replicated after the dubious vaccine interventions (look at Gibraltar, 100% vaccinated and cases are exploding), I’d say give it a shot.

    • example: Cancer, diabetes, and heart disease kill humans on a daily basis. Do we organize our entire lives around preserving ourselves from these disease? Based on the candy and chip aisles in CVS, I would say “no”.

      Let’s consider recent wisdom from our government: the state prosecutor’s closing argument: “Everybody takes a beating sometimes, right? Sometimes you get in a scuffle and maybe you do get hurt a little bit. That doesn’t mean you can just start plugging people with your full-metal jacket, AR-15 rounds.” (source: )

      Every human does indeed take a beating periodically from a virus. Sometimes that beating kills us. That doesn’t mean you should just start closing schools and ordering people to stay home with your full metal jacket, AR-15 rounds.

      Just because we fervently want to win a war against a virus doesn’t mean that we are entitled to win. Reference the Vietnam War. If we don’t have a credible plan for victory, why are we fighting? The genius of the Swedish MD/PhDs in February 2020 is that they realized that nobody had a credible plan to prevail against SARS-CoV-2. Therefore, they decided not to dig most of the trenches that folks in other parts of the world (but not Florida and South Dakota!) dug.

    • It’s especially interesting because the likelihood that SARS-CoV2 would become an endemic virus was known very early on, but acknowledging that was almost never heard from any official government source in charge of mobilizing our resources and deploying them ad infinitum to wage the War. It would be very interesting to correlate the use of the term: “endemic” with “SARS-CoV2” and “COVID” in news reports over the past 1.5 years.

      Of course, given the basic structure of the virus, even people with undergraduate level educations in immunology and virology knew that 1) We had never heretofore created a lasting and powerful vaccine against a coronavirus and 2) This particular coronavirus was probably even more mutable and difficult to protect against than others.

      The only person I know of in a position of authority who acknowledged the likely end state of endemic virus was Judith Persichilli, who was nevertheless in charge of helping to wage the war. This is almost a schizophrenic statement, but she said it with a very straight face back in March of 2020:

      “I’m definitely going to get it. We all are,’ N.J.’s top health official says as she leads the state’s coronavirus war”

      This is like saying: “We’re going to lose this war. It’s already lost. But we’re going to do everything we can do to win it, and spend every resource we have fighting it.”

      And that’s what we’re doing.

    • I’ll say something else also: I have a very good childhood friend who is an excellent ER physician in a big hospital system in a northeastern state. Last year, I asked him to give me his candid opinion about the vaccines and the likelihood they would allow us to “defeat the virus and end the pandemic.” This is a man I’ve known since I was five years old.

      He never answered the question. And he won’t. I suspect that is because he also realized a year ago that it was going to become an endemic virus and did not want to expose himself to being quoted on the internet saying so, even though I promised I would anonymize his comments or not mention them at all.

    • @Toucan Sam: Alex (early) (1.0?) the gun-owning Alex who replies to himself. Sorry, I didn’t make that clear. 🙂

    • This was Chancellor Merkel’s plan in Germany before she, as always, looked at opinion polls and did what made her look best in the short term. If she hadn’t caved in, we would have two European countries with decent Covid-19 stats now (Sweden being the other one).

      It is interesting that this is not a left vs. right issue. Almost two woke European countries implemented policies demanded by Deplorables in America. Similarly, many Covid-19 vaccine skeptics in Europe (who are vaccinated against polio, measles, tetanus, smallpox, …) come from the left alternative milieu.

      The same applies to many protesters that are in the streets in Austria right now (40,000) demonstrating against vaccine mandates. They are depicted as right wing and Nazis by the mainstream, but you just need to look at pictures that have not been carefully selected to fit the narrative and see many center/left/green types.

    • Answer to example:
      Until recent (19th century), bloodletting was often practiced by medical doctors to help their patients, to “do something”. In most cases it would have been much better they did nothing. In middle ages, doctors wore beak mask to protect themselves against plague. I am not sure we made much improvement since then with our “anti-covid” masks. In order to “do something”.

      Answer to Anonymous:
      Noticed same thing in Croatia. People who oppose vaccine mandates are equally left- or right-politically oriented, but media does everything to depict them all as right-wingers or lunatics.

    • @Alex –

      Your ER doc friend was on to something.

      Two months ago I got a form letter letter from ABEM saying my Board Certification could be revoked if I was found to be spreading “misinformation.”

  3. This meme seems to be designed to elicit some response among anti intellectual, anti common sense types, no? Not sure what the intended conclusion was, but in reality I think it backfires for those with some common sense. It actually underscores that vaccines are working very well. The number of cases are increased–so what? Has anyone in the science or medical community made the claim that vaccines prevent the disease? Vaccines reduce the severity of infection. Also, we well know that disease transmission varies wildly over time and is periodic, so comparing to exactly one year ago is silly, unless you’re intending to be intellectually disingenuous and deceptive. Furthermore, what were the lockdown conditions and individual precautions like for the two time periods, as these are important factors. But, based on those statistics, without vaccines, the rate of people hospitalized versus new cases was 71%, with vaccines, the number is 13%! ICU versus new cases was 8% versus 2.5% with vaccines. And, the most important statistic, the death rate, has been conveniently omitted.

    It’s been my experience that conservative targeted memes are the most nonsensical, and I think that says as much about the folks creating and pedaling them as it does the intended audience.

    • “Has anyone in the science or medical community made the claim that vaccines prevent the disease? Vaccines reduce the severity of infection.” This newspeak is right from 1984.

    • @Anonymous: Senorpablo is so thoroughly indoctri ated a True Believer that when he reads Newspeak he not only internalizes it without the slightest resistance, he immediately begins repeating it, spreading it around, defending it, and taking note of those resisting it.

    • Example from March 31, 2021:

      CDC Study of Vaccinated Frontline Workers Shows Covid-19 Shots Effectively Prevent Infection, Not Just Symptoms

      The study, published on Monday in the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, shows that Moderna and Pfizer’s mRNA-based vaccines offer 90 percent effectiveness at preventing coronavirus infections—not just symptoms—two weeks after the second dose. In other words, the vaccinated group of participants saw 90 percent fewer cases than if they had not been vaccinated, according to the CDC.

      The new study differs from clinical trials because the participants who received the vaccine knew that they were vaccinated. The participants were tested for Covid-19 each week, which allowed the researchers to spot infections even if they were asymptomatic or mild. The participants also held jobs with the highest risk of exposure to the coronavirus that causes Covid-19, and the 13-week study from mid-December to March included the winter surge.

    • (I am not sure how many people in Ireland would qualify as “conservative” by Americans standards. This meme fails the common sense test? Unlike the science-informed Prime Minister’s statement that all of the country’s COVID problems can be attributed to the 5% of eligible adults who have been “hesitant” (not to say “resistant”? Common sense tells us that salvation via vaccines come when the “hesistant” are reduced from 5% to what number, exactly?)

      Folks criticizing Senorpablo for his failure to notice that we haven’t always been at war with Eastasia: Remember that Senorpablo is our guide to how the typical American processes information from the government and media. If he thinks that the vaccines were never intended to prevent infection, transmission, mutation, etc., it is a fair bet that tens of millions of others have been similarly convinced. (Once people accept this new pillar of the faith, it is a little tough for me to understand how they can accept the old pillar that forced universal vaccination will lead to salvation! I guess the argument is that even 1 unvaccinated person can get severe COVID-19 and simultaneously occupy all of America’s 920,000 hospital beds, thus reducing hospital capacity for the Righteous.)

    • @Philg: I think the shift from “prevention of COVID” or claiming the vaccines are 90% or more effective at preventing infection to “lessening of severe symptoms” is a subtle shift along the road to the eventual admission that SARS-CoV-2 is endemic. After months and months of promises that the vaccines are “safe and effective” and also PREVENT COVID, it’s impossible politically to simply turn the corner abruptly and now say: “Well, they don’t prevent anything. They reduce the severity of infection.” Moving the goalposts, while at the same time making sure the virus is lucrative and stimulatory in all the ways it has proven to be: for drug companies, for the power of government, for the people who write the government checks and those who spend them. It can’t become like malaria in Africa, where the disease is endemic but there’s no money in developing a vaccine to fight it. The money spigot has to keep flowing even as the direction of the war changes completely.

      Since everyone has been focused on the goalposts, you have to move them slowly. By the summer, I predict that SARS-CoV-2 will be classified as an “endemic” virus similar to the flu, requiring yearly or biannual shots, and a rigorous tracking system, the best of which by far is your RFID chip idea. The words: “prevents COVID-19” are going to disappear from the vaccine lexicon.

      Senorpablo is an advanced reader of the “save the Biden Administration and keep the Left in power” talking points and he is trying to promulgate that usage here, in my estimation.

    • @Philg: I note that the frequency of “endemic” as a Google search term has shown a significant increase in recent months, and I expect that to continue through the winter and into the spring as more academics and policymakers begin to roll the term out.

      With an endemic virus, the goal of vaccination shifts from “preventing infection” to “lessening of severe symptoms.” It’s a big comedown from “ending the pandemic” to “living with the virus forever” and no politician – particularly the one in power right now – wants to take the blame for that.

    • @Philg: You know, when your President has an approval rating in the mid to high 30% range leading into a midterm election year in which his party seems increasingly poised to lose their grip on both houses of Congress, and there is no obvious successor to your increasingly addled 1-term leader (here comes Hillary!) it’s a looooong way down from saying that you’re going to roll into office, beat COVID and end the pandemic and saying that the Pandemic Is Forever and Booster Shots are Forever.

      So you have to start rolling these concepts out slowly but insistently, watching the dials, and making sure that right talking heads are talking about the right talking points at the right times, especially remembering not to forget about the impact of the events of January 6th.

    • @ Alex-
      ” It’s a big comedown from “ending the pandemic” to “living with the virus forever” and no politician – particularly the one in power right now – wants to take the blame for that.”

      That’s why they blame the unvaccinated.

  4. > Unlike Facebook, WhatsApp doesn’t seem to correct COVID-19 wrongthink.

    Internet companies are doing great during Covid-19, it makes sense to censor content that might shorten the crisis! Probably WhatsApp will follow soon!

    • That’s a great point I had never considered! It makes sense for Facebook to add COVID-19-related notes to almost every page. When a deadly virus is circulating, what is safer than being at home scrolling through ad-laden pages on Facebook?

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