Continuing to explore a topic raised in February (Did vaccines or any other intervention slow down COVID?)…
Cochrane has shown that the correlation between forced masking and coronaplague is minimal (i.e., general public masking does not reduce the spread of a respiratory virus, just as Science, including the WHO, said for 100 years prior to June 2020). We’ve had a good natural experiment on COVID-19 vaccines in that countries vary dramatically in their vaccination rate. Where is the study that shows, from these data, that population-wide COVID-19 vaccination, as aggressively promoted by the CDC (down to age 6 months!), reduces COVID-tagged death rate?
The New York Times offers a map and table of countries and their “fully vaccinated” rate. We can see that Chile is 93% fully vaccinated and Spain is virtuously at 87%. Compare to just 34% in Ukraine and 30% in Nigeria.
The correct approach to an analysis would almost certainly include adjusting by share of population over whatever we can agree is the COVID-vulnerable age (CDC says 6 months; European public health officials say 50 (age of vaccine eligibility); previous attempts have used 65; median age of a COVID death is about 80). But what if we do a rough cut by looking at the raw (not age-adjusted) COVID-tagged death rates?
|Country||Vaccination Rate||Covid-tagged deaths/million|
Is it obvious from the above that #VaccinesSave?
(We could also look at excess deaths by country during three years of coronapanic. Vaccinated Chile is at 18%; Spain at 11%; packed-with-filthy-unvaccinated-disgusting-people Switzerland at 8% (no data for Turkey, Ukraine, and Nigeria).)
Why does this matter? Let’s look at a post-Cochrane tweet from a person who might be described as a moderate believer in public health interventions. With her MD and MPH, certainly, she cannot just throw in the towel on the idea that humans, at least with sufficient credentials, can be masters of their own destiny. In light of the Cochrane review, she says that we will master our destiny with vaccines and Paxlovid:
But if the Followers of Science fooled themselves for 3 years on masks, why can’t the Followers of Science also be wrong about the effectiveness of vaccines and Paxlovid? Is it worth looking at age-adjusted country-to-country comparisons to make sure that we aren’t wasting a lot of time, energy, and money that could be better spent on, e.g., fighting obesity (first step under Philip’s dictatorship: no more Buy 2 Get 3 candy sales at CVS!)?
Fighting COVID with ineffective tools is not cost-free because humans have limited time, energy, and money. Closing schools, for example, will ultimately cost more lives than SARS-CoV-2 infection because people with less education live statistically shorter lives. Dollars printed to pay people to sit at home for 2 years are dollars that can’t be used to pay people to lose weight (imagine what you could do for public health if you gave Americans $600/week on condition that they lose 1 lb. per week! (maybe people would game the system by bulking up in the week prior to the first weigh-in?)).
(Speaking of Paxlovid, my friends in California seem to be Pfizer’s best customers. They said that they would never get COVID because (a) they had 4 or 5 Pfizer shots, (b) they mostly stayed home for 2+ years, and (c) they wore their N95 masks on the rare occasions when they left home. Then they got COVID (once or twice) and, despite being reasonably young (60ish) and not obese or chronically sick, they would guzzle Paxlovid within hours of an at-home test yielding the sacred magenta line. (How did they get it so fast when the rest of us have to wait 2 months to see a primary care doc? Telehealth!))