Did vaccines or any other intervention slow down COVID?

Here’s a chronology of humans fighting SARS-CoV-2:

Let’s ignore for the moment that “excess deaths” might be a better measure because doubts have been raised about whether COVID-tagging of deaths has been done correctly in various states and countries. We’ll go with the statistic that we have on the “search for the keys under the lamppost” theory of #Science.

Especially for the U.S., the slope of the curve is remarkably constant. Why is that surprising? We had the miracle of lockdowns. Then we had the miracle of mask orders. Then we had the miracle of mRNA vaccines. If these miracles worked, but then the deaths resumed after the virus mutated, shouldn’t we see a more dramatic variation in slope?

Perhaps it is in Europe that we can see some effects. Humans did something in June 2020 that flattened the European curve until late October when hockey stick growth started again. But what did humans do in June 2020? The various coronapanic orders had actually been relaxed by that point. Once again in June 2021 there is a leveling of the European curve. Maybe that shows the efficacy of COVID vaccines? It seems unlikely. As in the U.S., the Europeans injected the old/vulnerable much earlier in 2021.


24 thoughts on “Did vaccines or any other intervention slow down COVID?

  1. In Europe the summer effect has been very strong, almost zero cases just like for the flu. Europe has hot summers and hardly any air-conditioning, so people go outside and don’t crowd inside to cool down.

    The “vaccine” of course had no effect and the first hard lockdown in 2020 conveniently ended right before summer, so its effect is questionable.

  2. So much was sunk into this that it’s become an article of faith that these efforts were all valuable. No one will accept this heresy and you will become a pariah if you keep this up.

  3. Well, the only takeaway I get from that graph is that the super-upward-climbs seem to correspond quite well to Thanksgiving/Xmas end of year gatherings. Since it’s a cumulative graph, it probably hides a lot of subtle variations, especially as the numbers climb. While maybe modern vaccines likely aren’t the complete miracle claimed, look at all the cases of crippling polio around these days (hint: you probably won’t find that many, at least in the US). And if the Europeans do spend more time outside in Summer months, that may help explain the difference. So, abundant Air Conditioning is responsible for excess deaths? 😉

    • We can certainly be grateful to Moderna and Pfizer for eradicating polio with their mRNA COVID-19 vaccine shots! (Just as we are grateful to “flu vaccines” (upgraded in 2020 from the former “flu shots”) for eradicating measles.)

  4. Philip,

    Are you forgetting that a huge slice of Americans refused the vaccine and didn’t do any masking or try to do anything to stop the spread?

    That’s why the US had more and better vaccine supply and but had worse outcomes. There was no equivalent anti-vax movement of that size in most other parts of the world.

    In places with high compliance, like SF, deaths were very low.

    And why the unvaccinated had a much higher rate of death.

    You can’t have it both ways — first claim the vax doesn’t work, then chalk up deaths of anti-vaxers as proof the vaccines don’t work.

    • I didn’t expect the constant-slope curve to shake a Californian’s faith in muscular coronapanic interventions, including coerced vaccinations (contrary to the Nuremberg Code; see https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/nejm199711133372006 ). But, given that Science has proven the experimental COVID attempted vaccines to be more than 90% effective, what’s your theory for how fully- and early-vaccinated Israel managed to end up with about the same percentage of excess deaths, adjusted for population median age, as the packed-with-filthy-unvaccinated-Deplorables U.S.? https://philip.greenspun.com/blog/2023/01/31/following-up-on-the-covidian-dream-state-of-israel/

    • To explain population-wide statistics in Israel, you’re focusing on the subset of Israelis (median age 30) who are (1) over 65 years old, and (2) “ultra Orthodox” (they don’t believe that Leviticus suggests going to the bathhouse?). The ultra Orthodox (let’s call them “Deplorables” for short because they now accused of resisting the Sacrament of Fauci) are approximately 13 percent of Israelis and 60 percent of them are under age 20. https://en.idi.org.il/haredi/2020/?chapter=34272

      When Israel was still being used as an example to American Deplorables, state-sponsored media here in the U.S. said that the ultra Orthodox actually WERE injected with the miracle elixir: https://www.npr.org/2021/04/22/988812635/how-israel-persuaded-reluctant-ultra-orthodox-jews-to-get-vaccinated-against-cov

    • If 13% of the population is dying at 4x the normal rate (as the story says), some simple math suggests that’s enough to drive the country death rate to 140% of what it otherwise would be.

      And that’s only from the anti-lockdown effect since those numbers were from before vaccines.

      Re: Vaccine timing. Israel got off to a strong start, but they were less than 2 months ahead of the US, then fell behind other countries.


      So it’s hard to say “Israel is the model country that did everything right”

    • My link is broken because it’s too long, but

      – Follow philg’s link at the top of his post
      – Change “metric” to “people vaccinated”
      – Add Israel

    • The article supports your theory that 13% of the population was dying at a higher rate, as of Feb 2021, only if you assume that 100% of the ultra Orthodox are over age 65. But, as noted above, the median age of this population is 20.

      Separately, it might have ultimately transpired that the ultra Orthodox, even the over-65s who are the subject of the article you cited, did not have an especially high death rate. They might have gotten COVID-19 at little sooner than the cowering-in-place non-Orthodox (who eventually got sick once they left their bunkers). The article you cite shows that some elderly ultra-Orthodox (a small percentage of the 13%) had at least temporarily a higher death rate than non-ultra-Orthodox.

    • Maybe you’ll remember this, but the original covid was largely defeated by June/July of 2021 in the US, and we had a few quiet months before Delta arrived.

      The combination of alpha’s relatively low level of contagiousness + the vaccination rates at the time were enough.

      I was optimistic in the summer of 2021 as well.

    • David: If you add Portugal (94% vaccination rate) and The Netherlands (79%) to philg’s link, Portugal does much worse.

    • Re: Portugal, look at the timing of their vaccinations, and the timing of their deaths.

      In the graph, look at “confirmed deaths”, and “7 day rolling average”

      Then switch between “people vaccinated” and “confirmed deaths” and look at the x-axis.

      They had a massive wave of deaths pre-vaccine.

    • Portugal had the spike pre-vaccine, but the numbers are still rising since Jan. 2022, ẃhereas Netherlands is almost flat. It also shows in the rolling average.

    • The “look at Portugal” idea is good for Science v2020. You dig back into the historical data until you find some that confirms whatever you’re imagining at the moment (see https://philip.greenspun.com/blog/2021/04/04/coronascientists-are-the-modern-aristotles/ ). And Portugal is certain virtuous, celebrated for its 100% vaccination rate by the New York Times in October 2021 (see https://www.nytimes.com/2021/10/01/world/europe/portugal-vaccination-rate.html ). Portugal also had extended lockdowns and mask orders with high compliance. The only thing that Portugal did not succeed at was keeping residents alive.
      shows “excess mortality” during coronapanic in Portugal at 9% versus 5% in give-the-finger-to-the-virus no-mask no-lockdown Sweden.

    • “Portugal also had extended lockdowns and mask orders with high compliance”

      Philip — What evidence do you have that Portugal had high compliance in Fall 2020/Winter 2021, before their most serious outbreak?

      Doesn’t seem like a strong rule-following country to me.

      But easy to see how that first outbreak could have scared everyone into compliance, and why their vaccination rates shot up once the vaccine became available to them.

    • David: You thought that Californians had a monopoly on meekness and compliance? https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9123350/ shows “average mask usage” in Portugal at 84% (“Percent of the population reporting always wearing a mask when leaving home.”) compared to 5% in Science-denying Sweden and 57% in Germany.

      People could be fined 500 euros in Portugal for not wearing a mask… OUTDOORS. https://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-coronavirus-portugal/portugal-orders-masks-for-busy-outdoor-areas-as-covid-spikes-idUSKBN2781WS

    • https://www.theregreview.org/2020/07/01/rutschman-portugal-response-covid-19/ is from July 2020.

      The way in which Portugal addressed the challenges posed by the coronavirus pandemic has been hailed as one of the most successful national responses to COVID-19. Commentators have called Portugal’s response exemplary while portraying the country’s management of the public health crisis as exceptional when compared to other European countries’ responses. … The death toll associated with COVID-19 has been 30 times lower in Portugal than neighboring Spain. … To further encourage the use of masks, which was made mandatory at the beginning of the state of calamity, the government enacted a new law that imposed fines between 120 and 350 euros for failure to wear a mask or other required protective gear, such as a visor. The obligation to wear a mask was designed broadly, covering the provision of services and entrance into commercial establishments, educational establishments, and daycare centers, among other locations.

  5. No less a vaccine skeptic than Bill Gates recently said that 1) covid vaccines do not stop the spread of infection 2) vaccines are not good against variants and 3) any effects are short lived.

  6. “Dr” Phil is right as always: the vaccines were ineffective and therefore worthless, were a boondoggle for BigPharm, Fauci should be in jail, etc…

    And whatever other Russian/right-wing social media infection of the day.

    Paul Pelosi was attacked by his gay lover, they are coming to take your guns, etc.

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