Now They Tell Us!

Today the New York Times has a long article about the fact that covid vaccines have been responsible for a limited number of deaths. The article is featured in the paper’s daily email; this is how it begins:

Let me start with a disclaimer: The subject of today’s newsletter will make some readers uncomfortable. It makes me a little uncomfortable.

It makes the Times uncomfortable because it involves recanting a bit of liberal dogma.

The Times has just published an article about Americans who believe they suffered serious side effects from a Covid vaccine. More than 13,000 of them have filed vaccine-injury claims with the federal government.
This subject is uncomfortable because it feeds into false stories about the Covid vaccines that many Americans have come to believe — namely, that the vaccines are ineffective or have side effects that exceed their benefits. Robert F. Kennedy Jr., the independent presidential candidate, has promoted these stories, as have some Republican politicians and conservative media figures. “The scale of misinformation,” Dr. Joshua Sharfstein of Johns Hopkins University told Apoorva, “is staggering.”

The scale of misinformation on all sides has been staggering.

So let me be clear: The benefits of the Covid vaccines have far outweighed the downsides, according to a voluminous amount of data and scientific studies from around the world. In the U.S. alone, the vaccines have saved at least several hundred thousand lives and perhaps more than one million, studies estimate. Rates of death, hospitalization and serious illness have all been much higher among the unvaccinated than the vaccinated.

The Times offers this chart in support of that last statement:

Are those numbers accurate? I don’t know; “covid deaths” is a slippery category. A straightforward comparison of mortality rates would be more meaningful, although I think the results would be similar. In any event, I believe it is true that on average, the covid vaccines led to less serious infections and therefore saved many lives, despite their undeniable and, rarely, fatal side effects.

But this is where the Times does a limited mea culpa on behalf of the establishment, although it doesn’t mention the paper’s own role in propagating misinformation:

These side effects are worthy of attention for two main reasons.

First, people who are suffering deserve recognition — and the lack of it can be infuriating. Dr. Janet Woodcock, a former F.D.A. commissioner, told The Times that she regretted not doing more to respond to people who blame the vaccines for harming them while she was in office. “I believe their suffering should be acknowledged, that they have real problems, and they should be taken seriously,” Woodcock said.

The second reason is that public health depends on public trust, and public trust in turn depends on honesty. During the pandemic, as I’ve written in the past, government officials and academic experts sometimes made the mistake of deciding that Americans couldn’t handle the truth.

I don’t think that goes far enough: a lot of “experts” and government officials also had an interest, financial and otherwise, in covering up the truth.

Finally, the key admission. The original includes links, the emphasis is mine:

Instead, experts emphasized evidence that was convenient to their recommendations and buried inconvenient facts. They exaggerated the risk of outdoor Covid transmission, the virus’s danger to children and the benefits of mask mandates, among other things. The goal may have been admirable — fighting a deadly virus — but the strategy backfired. Many people ended up confused, wondering what the truth was.

Again, this understates the case. “Experts” and Joe Biden promised that those who got vaccinated wouldn’t catch covid. That was a whopper of epic proportions. And in my opinion, the goal of many covid-era restrictions was not at all admirable. Rather, I think that in states like Michigan, California and Minnesota, governors issued orders that were self-conscious experiments in outright fascism. I am afraid that on the whole, the American people failed that test. We should have resisted much more vigorously.

Finally, the Times also sugarcoats reality when it says that people “ended up confused, wondering what the truth was.” I think the more salient point is that many millions realized that they had been lied to–that the public health establishment, as exemplified by Dr. Fauci, is not just unreliable but deceitful. Sadly, that most likely is a good thing.

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