Are the Vaccines Failing?

Pressure to get vaccinated against covid is immense. Liberals demand that non-vaccinated people be denied medical care. In New York, you aren’t supposed to be able to enter a bar or restaurant without a certificate of vaccination. Questioning of the efficacy or desirability of vaccination is banned on social media. And Joe Biden says the fight against covid will be won when 97% or 98% of our population has been vaccinated, an impossible figure.

Despite all of the hoopla, it is pretty obvious that the vaccines are not working as well as had been hoped. Originally, it was understood that being vaccinated would prevent you from getting covid. When covid cases and deaths continued to rise after vaccines became available, we were told that it was an “epidemic of the unvaccinated.” But the goalposts have moved; now the claim is that you may still catch the disease, but you probably won’t get as severe a case.

These numbers are from Minnesota, but I assume they are typical of what we are seeing around the country:

If 34% of covid deaths are among the vaccinated–a percentage that, so far, continues to rise–it would seem that the vaccines have been vastly oversold, and efforts to force people to get them cannot be justified.

There may be an important qualification to that conclusion, however: it depends on how meaningful the concept of a “covid death” is. As has been true throughout the epidemic, those who contract covid and later die are overwhelmingly old and sick. Kevin Roche provides this updated chart showing cases, deaths and case fatality rates, again for Minnesota:

This is the breakdown, sorted into three age categories:

Kevin writes:

Look especially at the relative risk of dying if you are infected and you are 29 and under versus 85 and older. At 29 and under you have a 3100 times less risk of dying. If you are 39 and under, you have an 1100 times less risk of dying. Those are staggering differences in risk, and they are almost certainly understated, as many infections in the younger groups go undetected. Now ask yourself how the response to the epidemic made any sense at all. It couldn’t have been stupider.

I think it is undoubtedly true that the vaccines’ performance has been, to some degree, disappointing. The qualifying factor is that those who have covid and subsequently die are, still, overwhelmingly old and infirm. In many cases, the fact that a dying patient has covid is more or less irrelevant. And no one ever said that being vaccinated would make you immortal.

Still, if a person hadn’t contracted covid despite being vaccinated, he wouldn’t be counted as a “covid death,” no matter how dubious that category may be.

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