I can’t express it better than Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah): “The politicization of vaccination is an outrage and frankly moronic.” But it’s working. A shocking number of people are choosing to reject free and highly effective protection against a disease that has so far killed more than 608,000 Americans.
Even Republicans in Congress are beginning to think we should try to combat this lethal and stupid propaganda. The question is how.
You have to read further to see the bigger picture: The rate of covid deaths among vaccinated people barely compares to the exponentially higher rate among unvaccinated people. “These are really pretty fantastic vaccines,” says an epidemiologist quoted by the Boston Globe; the New York City health commissioner calls them “astonishingly effective.”
We’re talking history-making, world-saving efficacy. A new Yale study estimates that, by the end of June, coronavirus vaccines had prevented approximately 279,000 deaths in the United States alone. Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said that in states with low vaccination rates more than 99 percent of covid-19 deaths over the past six months were among unvaccinated people.
And that, ironically, is why we get news stories such as “Vaccinated CA man gets breakthrough covid case after trip to Las Vegas, spreads to family. ”
Because vaccines work so well, it’s a story when they fail.
Except they’re not failing in any meaningful way; they are succeeding to a spectacular degree. And that’s what we need to be saying, over and over — not just carefully explaining in the fourth paragraph.
I propose a running tally in bold type: covid deaths among unvaccinated vs. vaccinated citizens. Two numbers, side by side. Every newspaper’s front page, every state and federal website, the crawl at the bottom of every cable television news broadcast.
Google can design something cute for its search bar. Facebook owes it to us.
Every day, all day. Two numbers.
We couldn’t do this until now. When I tried to find out how many covid deaths could have been prevented if people just wore masks, the best I could come up with was the public health literature equivalent of “lots.” A study published last October in Nature Medicine hazarded that with masking nearly 130,000 lives could be saved by the spring, but researchers cautioned the model was more a “sophisticated thought experiment” than a prediction, a rough estimate.
But now that we have the vaccine and almost everyone eligible for it can get it, we don’t have to estimate. We can count. And the numbers show the overwhelming odds that a person who dies of covid has not been vaccinated.
As for the minuscule chance that I, as a vaccinated person, could die of covid? That’s because the unvaccinated are choosing to keep the virus alive.
So, let’s make it simple. Let’s ask our best analysts to put out a single set of numbers every day.
The Associated Press, using figures provided by the CDC, found that of the more than 18,000 Americans who died of covid in May, only about 150 were fully vaccinated. That’s 0.8 percent. Between Jan. 21 and July 9, 2,471 Virginians died of covid; 18 of them were vaccinated, or 0.7 percent. Between Jan. 1 and June 30, 37,180 Californians died of covid; about 71 — 0.2 percent — were vaccinated.
Maryland reported that of the 130 Marylanders who died of covid in June, none were vaccinated.
130 vs. 0. I can see it on a billboard now.