Sunday, August 01, 2021

Covid Denialism

I am frankly tired of repeating myself at a half-dozen sites. I will let this excellent Quillette article out of the UK speak for me this time. I think it is stronger for paralleling our own situation so closely, but with different personalities, culture, and details. So it's not about Trump, or Biden, or Cuomo, or DeSantis.  It's about human nature, and therefore, about us.

I am tired of reading about how "they," usually meaning Fauci and a lot of handwaving, lied to us about Covid, which is why "they" haven't any credibility now and we won't listen to what they say or do what they say anymore.  Because they are just controlling bastards, and the people still masking are timid and cowardly - not brave true Americans like us, who value liberty.

Because that's what our Founding Fathers fought for, sure, to not have to follow safety precautions unless they felt like it (and they weren't going to feel like it if it was physically uncomfortable or didn't look daring). It's so easy to accuse others of bad motives, isn't it, and so hard to even consider that theirs might not be all that good.

Glenn Reynolds has spent the last year putting "experts" in quotes and complaining how they "haven't exactly covered themselves with glory over the past year."  Well compared to the skeptics, they absolutely have covered themselves with glory. The deniers have been repeatedly and spectacularly wrong.

I was there for all of it.  I remember when as far back as March of 2020 people were saying this was exaggerated and no big deal. We kept hearing that this was "just the flu,"  and then "only like a bad flu season," and then still some mutters like that, but most people abandoned that line of argument. That was when we had just passed 100,000 deaths and I, also thinking that there was only going to be the one peak, and a long slow decline in deaths rather than a sharp one by June, predicted we would hit 150,000 deaths by September, maybe even August 1st, and was cautioned to check my statistics and estimates, and not to believe data that lead to such predictions. 

Now we hav 4.5-5 times as many deaths as that, and the same people are still finding excuses. Sometimes the same excuses. I've got a guy over at Chicago Boyz, a retired physician, saying he thinks these deaths weren't really covid, they are influenza, and you just wait, eventually it will show.  Sure Dr. Mike. The 2020 flu inexplicably struck twice instead of once, and worse the second time, killed 30 times more people than average, and just happened to occur in the year when there was all this covid rumor going on. Oh, and it petered out just as the new vaccines came on line.

Residents of states that had not yet been hit hard spoke contemptuously. Texas, Georgia, Florida - "We're not seeing any problem down here.  You people are all panicking. You must be doing something wrong. You just like telling other people what to do, but we won't have it. We're freedom-loving Americans. Why I know a guy who works at an ER and he says it's empty these days." Again so easy to accuse others of bad motives, so hard to even consider the possibility that they are just being sulky teenagers who don't like being told what to do.

Not all of them are that.  Some of them are exactly that.

When the second wave hit all those states harder than New Jersey, Massachusetts, New York, I do not recall a single statement on any of the blogs I frequent or their commenters that admitted the slightest bit of inaccuracy, or any apology for being insulting. As the numbers rose the excuses went with them. These aren't deaths from covid. These are deaths with covid. What? What the hell does that mean? Tom Bridgelend the ICU nurse from Chicago who comments here sums it up well: If someone comes in with covid symptoms but we don't do a test, and he dies in his own fluids, I don't really mind if the doctor writes coronavirus on the death certificate." Right.  Seeing that C19 is the overwhelmingly likely cause of death. What would you call it instead? 

Then the focus on covid deaths occurring primarily among people who had other factors, like age, obesity, diabetes.  So you are saying that's okay then? There is the constant denial that this is what is being said, but when it gets highlighted repeatedly, with no on-the-other-hands or cautions, I have to conclude that is what is being said. The little polite nods that of-course-those-deaths-are-all-tragic-but... no longer cut it. Minimising is convenient for you for some reason. A year ago I suspected that.  Now I'm sure.

Relatedly, there are stories about relatives that died from lack of medical care because of all the focus going to covid.  I imagine there were some, but interestingly, those aren't showing up in the statistics. There is no increase in deaths from other causes, except a bit in things that have similar symptoms to Coronavirus - heart disease and respiratory failure. And drug OD's, which did legitimately go up - and account for 3% of the excess mortality. The story may be working backwards from the data, from "Maybe Aunt Jessie might have survived if she had seen the doctor earlier" to "The focus on covid killed her."

The hospitals are calling things covid because they get extra money for those cases. And governors get reelected by making it look like the state's numbers are low, so that's a competing incentive.  And so when you look at other clues to see what the real number is, you find we have undercounted, not overcounted.

But by all means, lets get exercised all over again that they said "flatten the curve" and it didn't work out that way. Because they were supposed to know. And refer only to the studies that tell us what we want about masks, ignoring the ones that tell us differently.  Because that's brave. Now the cry goes up that the lockdowns were worse - sometimes it is even said there may have been more deaths (again Instapundit, repeatedly) - than from SARS-2 itself. Okay then - by what metric? I know there were lost jobs and diminished business, I know there was a general economic hit, but put that in numbers.  Put it out there and weigh x number of jobs versus y number of deaths. Make the assertion that "We should have stayed open even if it meant a million more deaths.  Because that's not crazy now that we are up to 750,000 even with precautions. Convince me with numbers, plus your years-of-life versus quality of life equation.

And then factor in all the other effects of Covid that are gradually emerging.  Those are part of the equation, too.

Of course it is irritating that politicians and other powerful figures, especially Democrats, were hypocrites and traveled, and didn't mask or distance themselves, but really, so what?  It doesn't change a thing about the disease itself. Get over it. It's irritating if kids have to wear masks at school when that isn't likely a big danger of spreading, but we are comparing that to what level of difficulty and oppression children have gone to school with before? Masks?  Quelle Horreur. I think they'll get over it. Talk to people from Romania about oppression at school. People talk now about how traumatic it was for American children to be told to get under their desks in the fifties, fearing nuclear attack.  I think we got over it.  I'm not seeing any downstream effects of that, even though there has been occasional hyperventilating about it.  We regard it as funny now. Masks are a bad thing for a small number of people, with speech or hearing difficulties. That's legit. It's an irritation for the rest of us, unless you assign great symbolic value to having to wear one.

Yes, maybe they assigned symbolic value to not wearing a mask first, but that doesn't really change things, except it's irritating.

An anecdote of irony: the guys in charge of security in churches because of the very occasional horrendous events that occur - they clearly understand the principle of being prepared for a low-chance but devastating event. But they don't see the point of wearing masks because...why, exactly?  The evidence would suggest that picking and choosing like that suggests some personal motive rather than a risk assessment.  Not such a good thing from a professional security firm. You might even guess at their motives.

And the claim that we really don't know what works, and maybe this many people would have died despite whatever we did anyway.  Evidence?  Because people are making the opposite claim with lots of evidence.  Please include in your calculations the countries with low rates of infection and death, some of which don't have anywhere near the hospital care we do. I think the evidence is those selectively-chosen studies about masks.  Not a devastating case.

I think the deaths don't seem real because people don't see them, but they do see masks and signs about distancing, and closed businesses.  That is understandable, but is still illogical. The numbers are what they are.  If you have different numbers, bring 'em. For the record, I am not currently masking except at the places that require them, which is mostly medical facilities at this point.  The Delta variant is worse, but not worse enough to respond to.  That could change. If we have to mask again, I shrug. I am hugging children at church. That too could change, if the data changes. 

Worldwide there is a third spike in both cases and deaths.  In America...maybe.  There has been a small recent upturn in cases, driven by Texas, California, Arizona, and especially Florida. Maybe a rise starting in deaths, from the same places.  But clinics and hospitals know what they are doing at this point, which will likely keep the deaths moderate unless something catastrophic happens.


GraniteDad said...

Well said, and a great synthesis of a lot of different complaints I’ve heard over the past year.

Assistant Village Idiot said...

Well, the article was a bit of a rant about "cranks" and I should have stressed more that was my target here, but I will let it stand, as there has been too much mild or partial agreement with frank insanity.

mc23 said...

I live in a hotspot in the Northeast. In sixty years I don't personally recall anyone who died from the flu. Now, I know first hand of the deaths of three people over 55. That is extraordinary. Friends and relatives have direct knowledge of at least 5 other people. I am not counting anything that I've heard of 3rd hand no matter how reliable.

When I told people online of the numbers of deaths and sicknesses I knew of I was dismissed as a liar and a shill

I do think we over reacted but denial is sad. If you look at excess deaths for the nation and also by region they match the Covid numbers pretty closely.

Grim said...

I deduce from the length of your commentary that you may not be as tired of this fight as you think that you are. :)

This puts you in good company. GK Chesterton, "Ballad of the White Horse."

"You are more tired of victory,
Than we are tired of shame.

"That though you hunt the Christian man
Like a hare on the hill-side,
The hare has still more heart to run
Than you have heart to ride.

"That though all lances split on you,
All swords be heaved in vain,
We have more lust again to lose
Than you to win again."

I suppose I am one of those in partial agreement with what you consider insanity. But your linked UK article concludes in the hope that naysayers will die miserably, with no one to blame but themselves. I have definitely seen that hope expressed more fervently of late; more, I've seen that article written up by journalists and widely celebrated whenever someone seems to have died miserably as a heretic who learned too late of their righteous damnation.

For example:

The math is hard to make out in part because of the relentless propaganda in favor of the vaccine. I think the math actually does work out on their side, and by two orders of magnitude, as near as I can make it out through the fog. It's hard to make out, though, because every study is either blessed or cursed by the powers that be: "misinformation" or "misleading" if the study is even slightly skeptical or critical, and on social media "The vaccines are safe and effective."

Maybe they are relatively safe; perhaps there are still some reasonable questions about their efficacy. If these things really are a two-orders better bet, though, one could just let us see the data and work it out. I've had an almost endless number of vaccines: in addition to the normal American ones, the ones required or even just recommended for travel in China, the southern Philippines, the Middle East, and the wartime Anthrax and Small Pox vaccines too. (None of them caused as intense a negative reaction as the COVID vax, though, which caused my arm to swell nearly to nonfunction for two days.)

The experts you mention have not only lied, they've admitted they lied to us. They lied about masks, and they lied about funding gain-of-function research that may well have caused all this trouble. They lied that their tests were effective -- turns out they can't tell this disease from influenza, so we can't even examine the question of how bad last year's flu season was or how much it contributed to the death toll.

I'll trust them again perhaps never, and definitely not while they rely on propaganda to suppress skeptical thought. That isn't how science works, and it's not how a government of, by, or even just for the people should work either. That they are scoundrels is another problem on our way to figuring out a politically acceptable course, and one that leaves off what might be acceptable options were the government less so.

That said, I respect you and consider your opinions with due care. That does not always entail agreement, but it does embrace reflection.

Zachriel said...

Assistant Village Idiot: I am frankly tired of repeating myself at a half-dozen sites.


Still, it's important to do so. Your voice is especially valuable in certain circles.

Assistant Village Idiot: think the deaths don't seem real because people don't see them, but they do see masks and signs about distancing, and closed businesses. That is understandable, but is still illogical.

Sure. It's a fundamental aspect of human nature (albeit more pronounced on the political right).

Zachriel said...

Grim: They lied about masks

Masks were not recommended until it was discovered that COVID-19 could possibly be transmitted by asymptomatic carriers.

Grim: they lied about funding gain-of-function research that may well have caused all this trouble.

The gain-of-function pause concerned changes to transmissibility or virulence of the virus in humans. That was not meant to preclude any work with viruses. Just replicating a virus, for instance, tends to result in the evolution of strains that are adapted to the laboratory environment. That would not be covered under the gain-of-function pause. As for "caused all this trouble," the genetic evidence strongly indicates the virus evolved naturally. That doesn't preclude a laboratory leak, but there is no evidence that that happened either.

Grim: They lied that their tests were effective -- turns out they can't tell this disease from influenza

That's just false. The tests are highly specific to SARS-Cov-2, with false positives near zero. Influenza is not even in the same family of viruses as coronaviruses. As for the flu season, of a million tests for influenza in the U.S., only 0.2% were positive. Influenza virtually disappeared, probably due to the social measures used to contain COVID-19.

Grim: I'll trust them again perhaps never, and definitely not while they rely on propaganda to suppress skeptical thought.

Have whatever thoughts you want, but skepticism in science demands evidence.

Zachriel said...

mc23: If you look at excess deaths for the nation and also by region they match the Covid numbers pretty closely.

That's a valid statistical method of ensuring that the results are not due to random fluctuations. You can also look at other countries, other regions, and subsets of those, and see much the same pattern. Or subsets of time across any of these. There's no reasonable doubt as to the cause or scope of the pandemic.

Brad said...

The problem for me has been the inability to get to the real data. There has been outright lying and disinformation campaigns on BOTH sides of this issue. Finding the truth and then keeping up with the science as we learn new things is next to impossible. The real truth is that there are a lot of things that "the science" doesn't know. How effective against Covid are masks in general public use? How effective are lockdown strategies? What are the long term health and mental health effects of the shutdowns? What will be the long term efficacy and safety of the mRNA/DNA vaccines? I feel like you glossed over all the uncertainty to hammer the cranks and marginalize those that believe, like I do, that the pandemic is serious, but not catastrophic except in our response to it.

Brad said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Brad said...

Grim, for what it is worth, I've been following and analyzing the data since March 2020 (I'm an engineer, I can't help it) and I am in complete agreement with you comment.

Zachriel said...

Brad: How effective against Covid are masks in general public use?

Science Brief: Community Use of Cloth Masks to Control the Spread of SARS-CoV-2

While wearing a mask and other social measures only provide partial protection, but can reduce the reproduction number of the virus, the R0. If the community pushes R0 below one, then the virus will recede.

Brad: What will be the long term efficacy and safety of the mRNA/DNA vaccines?

The risk is very low, much less than the virus itself.

Aggie said...

I had an interesting conversation yesterday with a career CDC guy from Atlanta, now retired. He shakes his head at the way the pandemic has been handled. His most interesting comment went something like this:

The CDC used to have a very different kind of mission standard. When Everett Koop was surgeon general for instance, everybody understood that this was a guy who had operated extensively in pediatrics, who understood health crises, who practiced medicine for a living and actually administered patients. Here he was, in the Vice Admiral uniform (Public Health Service Commissioned Corps). He commanded trust and respect and was firm on his positions for things like tobacco use, AIDS and so forth. The CDC was an agency with seasoned, experienced medical professionals (many of them ex-military) that had a good collaborative relationship with the OSG on promoting public health issues and investigations.

But nowadays, the CDC cannot effectively compete for experienced people like this. A medical doctor goes through 4 years of college, 4 years of med school, then residency, then specialization if they want it. The residency selection process is quite a bit like the draft - you put down your preferences, you pay your way to interviews, and then the day comes with all the candidates in one room, and they hand you an envelope that tells you where you're going for your residency. When they become available for hire by a government agency like the CDC, they've got $3-400,000 worth of debt they're facing that must be paid off, which takes them years. The medical industry is structured for this. The CDC, as a consequence, ends up with medically-trained statisticians instead of seasoned health care professionals - and it shows.

Assistant Village Idiot said...

@ Brad - i think it depends on what you mean by "know." We know little with absolute certainty, but we know a lot of what is highly probably. Masks provide some benefit when combined with other measures like distancing and air exchange. Standalone, not much. Lockdown strategies are very effective, the stricter the better - which is what makes it impossible, because I don't think anyone wants Wuhan apartment complex level of shutdown or surveillance state level of contact tracing. Those work, but they are nightmarish. So we are already trading off death with rights, and willingly.

Long term health effects of the shutdowns...I am not seeing how they would adversely affect heart or lung conditions, cancer. They might affect exercise and eating, therefore obesity, but because the duration is not years that should be small. Mental health effects are likely more from job loss than staying home. There is increased drug use. I don't see long-term developmental effects as likely, and dying grandparents would be more traumatic (the younger, the worse, generally). We also don't know the long-term effects of the virus, but some of those look bad, compromising lung and heart function, and worrisome neurological effects. Just as an estimate, it's looking like lockdowns and vaccines have a high hill to climb to be worse.

The is a generalised discouragement from economic downturn, and while that is hard to measure, I think it may be real. It will affect a lot of people at the margins of their decisions - their willingness to risk a new business or job or make other changes.

We have now given the vaccines millions of times and know a great deal. I don't see evidence of long-term risk that is rising above any other technology. Worse than the anxiety of social media? Worse than the various brain stimulations? Possibly, but there are no signs.

Donna B. said...

@brad - "What will be the long term efficacy and safety of the mRNA/DNA vaccines?"

I am unaware of any "DNA vaccines". Please provide some background/evidence there? I am aware of scientifically illiterate morons thinking that an mRNA vaccine will alter their DNA and mostly I wanted to respond "in your case that could be a positive outcome". I didn't because my daughters told me to be 'nice' and consider that he's my cousin. Second cousin, once removed... but still.

Have you noticed on Facebook the question "Do you actually know anyone who has had Covid?" I'm not sure whether the intent is to prove it's not widespread or that it is. I only see it because so many of my relatives respond "yes". One of my beloved aunts died of it - she helped my Mama raise me and we were always close. She probably would not have got the vaccine, but she died before it was available.

Masks - it's extremely annoying that those who don't want to wear a mask don't understand how masks can help. They are "correct" that wearing a mask won't necessarily keep them from getting Covid. What they don't understand is that it requires the majority of the population to wear masks -- it's this cooperative agreement they can't understand.

As for vaccine effectiveness, I was in close contact for over 3 hours with two people who subsequently tested positive for Covid. One of them had very mild symptoms, the other more severe but nowhere near requiring hospitalization. There were 5 of us in that group -- two vaccinated, one too young to be vaccinated (tested positive). The two vaccinated individuals tested neg as did the teenager who "has never been sick a day in her life". This teenager is getting the vaccine as soon as the quarantine is up.

I see a lot "common sense" nonsense about Covid. This is mostly on Facebook and it's mostly from my relatives who are 3/4 of my Facebook friends. These relatives range from progressive to classic liberals to intelligent conservatives to idiots on both political spectrums. I think I've persuaded at least one hesitant one to get vaccinated. The ones who got vaccinated without persuasion don't post much. I can "assume" that most are vaccinated.

Assistant Village Idiot said...

@ Donna B - you have provided excellent evidence that my decision to erase my FB account forever was the correct one. My wife is still on, but seems to have few people talking any politics at all. She has garden group, birdwatching group, the local free-or-cheap group, and friends from church with family and travel pictures. My experience was less pleasant.

Donna B. said...

@ AVI - I've been tempted to delete my FB account, but the fact is that it is the primary way I keep in touch with so many relatives -- idiots or not, I am still fond of most of them. I have blocked a few, unfriended a few, and unfollowed others. Private groups with limited membership are why I don't delete it altogether. Although I wonder how private those are, they don't seem to generate subject related ads.

Grim said...

@Donna B: Not to speak for Brad, but the Johnson & Johnson vax uses DNA instead of mRNA to deliver its payload of data. I think some of the foreign-approved ones do too, but I didn’t study those because they were not an option for me.

David Foster said...

A few points..

1--from data I've reviewed, the risks of *not taking* the vaccines exceed considerably the risks of taking the vaccines, at least for people of 18 and older. (For those younger, may be better to avoid in most cases unless there are specific individual medical factors arguing in favor) In addition to the direct benefits to the person taking the vaccine, there is an indirect benefit in that you are less likely to propagate the virus to others.

2--I notice quite a few people who have been strong Trump supporters but who seem to feel that the vaccine is something imposed on us by Fauci, Gates, Pfizer, etc. Trump is not a naive guy and I doubt that he's allowing himself to be manipulated on this.

It should be clearly understood: we have the vaccines now because of Trump and the initiatives he put in place. Absent Trump, we would be looking at a vaccine something between mid-2022 and the Twelfth of Never,y and the consequence would be hundreds of thousands of additional deaths and the complete shredding of the economy. (But when(if) we did get the vaccine, it would have the formal FDA seal of approval)

I also note note that conservatives/libertarians have usually *objected* to long government approval processes, including new drug approvals at the FDA.

3--public health communication has been terrible, and this includes Fauci. Not nearly enough education/persusasion/presentation of data; way too much communication of the respect-mah-authoriteh type. A communication program that involved more actual science, adherence to truth, and professional marketing methods would have been far more effective than what has actually been done.

4--if Trump were still in office, I'm 99.9% confident that the Democrats would be doing everything they could to undercut vaccine acceptance.

5--the term 'denialism' is being used way too broadly these days. It is 'borrowed' from Holocaust denialism, which is the refusal to credit the truth of a well-documented historical event. Something quite different from refusal to credit climate change results based on extremely complex and not-well-validated mathematical models, or even refusal to accept the safety/efficacy of vaccines, based on statistical analyses which are not nearly and complex as the climate models, but are still something quite different from direct documentary evidence by witnesses.

Possibly more later if I have time.

Brad said...

@Donna B, What @Grim said about the DNA vaccines. J&J uses DNA to insert and create the mRNA that creates the spike protein expression on our own cells. Hence my concern of potential autoimmune issues in the future. I am still waiting for the Novovax vaccine that uses more traditional methods.

Regarding your masking comments, I DO understand how masks work. In controlled settings and especially against droplet exchange, they are very effective. In real world use against a virus mostly passed by aerosol... not so much. So I hear the argument that SOME mitigation may warrant masking, but how much is the mitigation? Apparently some argue that ANY is enough to require masks. Fair enough, wear all the masks you want and at least you'll SOME protection.

I'm not sure your anecdotal account of vaccine efficacy merits comment. I believe the vaccines do reduce shedding of the virus since the symptoms are so reduced. How much and now with the transmissibility of the Delta, hard to say.

My real point of my previous comment was that despite lots of surety by those on FB, the media, and, well, blog commenters, I think everyone knows less than they think about SARS-coV2 and some humility on both sides of the many issues is appropriate.

Donna B. said...

Brad & Grim: I was not aware of how the J&J vaccine was different. Thanks for enlightening me!

Brad: The two people (one of them an adult) who tested positive had not been vaccinated. And it was 3 hours, close family, lots of hugging and kissing, laughing and all sitting close together. I didn't mean to make any claims about shedding the virus after vaccination.

Assistant Village Idiot said...

David Foster - excellent points, as is usual for you.

I don't know if I would go 99.9%, but I essentially agree that if this wer stil the Trump Vaccine the response would be at least somewhat different. Kamala Harris and Joe Biden both said they wouldn't trust any vaccine that came out under the Trump Administration until a couple of days after the election, at which point they were suddenly receptive, and by Inauguration Day were chastising all those evil Trump supporters who were too stupid to get the vaccine and were endangering us all! So it is not merely cynical and biased speculation on your part. There is evidence.

Texan99 said...

I've been pro-vax from the start; I liked everything I read about it and found the criticisms of both its effective mechanism and the safety trials unconvincing. But that's for me. It's not for me to say how others should evaluate the balance of risk between vaccination and exposure to the virus. I confine myself to stating the facts I believe to be true about both, and respect the right of others to make up their own minds. Do I wish we had 100% vaccination and a lower rate of transmission? Yes. That's the breaks. I don't get to have a world in which everything is better because everyone has to do what I say.

I was perhaps more concerned early in the pandemic than many people I was in contact with; the overwhelmed hospitals in Italy worried me a great deal. When the crisis hit here, I had initial fears about hospital overload, which abated after a few months, though I continue to keep a nervous eye on the point.

The reporting on effective treatments has been atrocious. Many sources of information on that score have permanently lost my confidence. To this day almost no one seems to know about the monoclonal antibody treatments, which aren't even controversial. It's bizarre. Ditto the reporting on the effectiveness of masks and social distancing, and particularly mandatory mask and lockdown policies. There has been way too much insistence that treatments must not work because that would send a bad message (about safety or politics), or masks/lockdowns must work, because otherwise you're a bad person who wants others to get sick. It's ignorant and it's been used to degrade society; I'm unlikely ever to be reconciled to it.

Nevertheless, I continue, obviously, to support the right of people to wear all the masks they like of whatever material they choose, and to stay home until they feel safe. I myself largely stayed home for quite some time, without feeling the need to force others to stay home or close their businesses. It was a shame to see so many people fail to come to grips with the possibility that they could very well control their own behavior without needing (or deserving) so much control over the behavior of others in areas where the data is not very clear. I closed my ears to most criticism on this subject many months ago. When data is murky, the default position should be to respect the choices of others, even if we fear that makes life more dangerous.

Unknown said...

I see it like the new '''flu''' ,maybe more dangerous, I don't know... But it is here to stay,much like other bugs.Of course more variations to come. and so it goes. Do what floats your boat best for you.
Have a good one!

David Foster said...

Some data: Israeli experience shows a 94% reduction in chances of getting Covid, one week after second Pfizer shot.

Israel also found that between one in 3000 and one in 6000 men ages 16 to 24 who received the vaccine developed myrocarditis. But most cases were mild and resolved within a few weeks, which is typical for myocarditis.

Of course, risks of side effects should be balanced with risks of death or other bad effects from the disease itself. Here’s some British data on mortality rates as a function of age…numbers are rates per 100,000 people:

5-9 .1
10-19 .5
20-29 2.1
30-39 7.4
40-49 22.8
50-59 65.8
60-69 192
70-79 553

To put these numbers into perspective, the most dangerous job in the US is logging, with 97.6 annual deaths per 100,000. So, if you’re 50-59, your chance of dying from Covid (so far) has been a little more than half your risk of working as a logger for a year (and a little more than working as a roofer, where the rate is 51.5) Also big differences by sex and (of course) by health condition.

David Foster said...

Also, what's with this term 'natural immunity' which has been going around? The standard term for immunity you get as a result of having a disease is 'acquired immunity' on an individual level, and 'herd immunity' at the level of a group. 'Natural immunity' sounds like something that a hippie vegan type would buy at a health supplement store.

Zachriel said...

David Foster: To put these numbers into perspective, the most dangerous job in the US is logging, with 97.6 annual deaths per 100,000.

The CDC is reporting about 2 deaths per hundred thousand after vaccination, but none of these have been shown to have a causal link to the vaccine. The number is consistent with the number of deaths expected due to age or other causes. The risk of death from the vaccine appears to be nil.

Zachriel said...

David Foster: Also, what's with this term 'natural immunity' which has been going around?

David Foster said...

Acquired Immunity:

David Foster said...

Haven't seen any credible data showing *deaths* from the vaccines, but there have been side effects, as noted in the Israeli case. Anecdotally, I know a guy who was knocked out for several days after the Pfizer vaccine...I took the same vaccine (both shots) and had hardly any noticeable effects at all. There have been reports of menstrual cycle disturbences in women; could be a factor if a woman is either trying to get pregnant or trying to avoid getting pregnant.

One thing that scares people is that there could be long-term effects that only show up after several years of vaccine experience--such is not common for vaccines, I believe, more than other drugs, the bad effects tend to show up relatively soon. And, of course, there could be long term effects of the Covid itself which are not yet showing up.

Given that so many people are concerned that the vaccines are emergency approval rather than standard FDA approval, it would be very useful for someone to write up and publish a comparison of what has been done in the testing so far versus what will be required for the full approval. I note that there are very few bureaucratic processes which cannot be speeded up considerably if someone focuses on doing so.

Zachriel said...

David Foster: Acquired Immunity

And there are two ways to acquire acquired immunity; naturally and artificially.

David Foster: Haven't seen any credible data showing *deaths* from the vaccines

This CDC data concerns deaths after vaccination, not deaths from vaccination, but does provide an upper limit.

HMS Defiant said...

I would invite your attention to Coyote. Some excellent points on the matter.

ruralcounsel said...

A pox on both sides of this argument.

Whatever data is made available is untrustworthy.

People need to evaluate their own risk tolerance and make up their own minds with incomplete and imperfect data.

Anyone trying to coerce an experimental medical procedure or coerce not getting an experimental medical procedure should be dragged out, curb stomped, and shot.

Assistant Village Idiot said...

@ HMS Defiant. I read about half of coyoteblog's argument. I have no patience for people who argue "Well, I've heard people say stupid things in defense of this, so it must be bosh." Coyote does not go against the strongest arguments S/he goes after the kids in the back row.

@ rural counsel - I don't think it can be called experimental anymore. It has been given millions of times. I think the word "coerce" needs to be defined in your last sentence. No one has been held down and given the vaccine against their will or threatened with physical harm or death. People have been required to get the vaccine to engage in some activities - which is entirely normal public health behavior for over a century and upheld by courts.

random observer said...

I'm late to this one but I want to comment because I very much appreciated this post. People with whom I share some views and values have really frustrated me on this. I am not always surprised, except as a matter of degree, but that degree is really shocking to me.

I'm 50, live in Canada (Ottawa) and my city has not been hit especially hard. Bad enough. Our mandates have been for physical distancing [I don't think any legal order, just advice, maybe binding on restaurants when open], masks in indoor public places [not on the street], and a series of prolonged lockdowns. I doubt anyone has ever been hassled by anyone official to wear a mask outside.

I myself have been designated essential at work and, although teleworking sometimes, have been in the sporadically populated office variously every afternoon, every day all day, three afternoons weekly, twice weekly during the third wave, and now all day every day and then some as some work stuff has been hitting the fan lately. I have walked the 2.5 km each way weather permitting, or taken largely empty buses for half of it under some circumstances. Except for the first lockdown, the Starbucks in the mall has been open, even though the mall was long otherwise closed. I stopped there once or twice daily. I have sat on patios when I had the option, not a lot but more than I did pre-pandemic. Inside the restaurant some times. I'm at groceries and pharmacies and, less commonly because I hardly need to, other stores.

I practice physical distancing because nothing is easier. I never wanted to be within 6 ft of strangers in public if possible to avoid. Pardon me, but who TF wants that? No, I'm not on any spectrum. Just know folks are dirty and untrustworthy. The number of men one used to see who didn't wash their hands coming out of a washroom tells that story. I hear the same from some women. So if anything, this mandate was right in my pre-existing wheelhouse. I wear the mask as required in stores and such because they're cheap and obviously harmless and even if they don't protect me or anyone else it keeps the panicky people off my back. It probably does help me a bit and others it protects slightly from me. And wearing it will not cause me to be stupid and go up and stick my face in someone else because I think the mask is a shield against all risk. I wash my hands as much as ever, and sanitize much more.

I haven't travelled, but then I always hated it. Easy to skip. I recognize it was more part of the normal lives of many people. Still. Nobody ever died for not taking a cruise, trip to Disney, or family road trip. Plenty of people could never afford them anyway. I haven't seen my elderly parents in 18 months, though they live only in Toronto. I typically saw them only twice a year, and we're all grown ups. My mother immigrated from the UK and didn't see her parents for nearly a decade.

All in all, I realize my life was more easy to adapt to COVID than some, but equally I have changed little, only easy habits. I have not stayed at home, nor walked abroad with any significant fear. I cannot be accused of being a victim of COVID panic.


random observer said...


I may not think governments have handled this very well, often poorly. I may think they have reacted excessively, but I think governments have emergency powers. They need to think more about how to use them but I have not seen mendacity.

Quarantines are a normal part of a public health emergency, especially if you can get the disease without actually having sex with an infected person, a rather proactive move.

Vaccines were a normal part of life- when I was a kid I had plenty including smallpox. I've taken shots for funky stuff work work travel. The idea of vaccination is as normal as popping a tylenol, really, and if anything more common for me. I don't mostly get headaches... I get these vaccines were developed faster, but the technological developments behind that have not been kept secret, and millions have received them without serious harm. I've had first Pfizer then Moderna. Trivial reaction only to the second dose. Maybe we'll need boosters. That's hardly a first.

It's not just a cold, it's not just a seasonal flu, it's probably worse than Asian or Hong Kong and is at least competing with Spanish flu. Here I am being vague because I'm not bothering to track details and am conscious that speed and rate of infection and death will be affected by the different speed of global travel, different overall health profile of the target populations, and different levels of available treatment, and so on. Spanish flu was serious, and here we have competitive figures despite a richer, broadly healthier population in most places, OTOH it moved a lot faster. So this is no trifle. It's not the Black Death either. Yet we seem to be surrounded only by those who see it as one or the other.

I am diabetic, have HBP, and in theory am asthmatic [no symptoms for a decade almost- I think they were wrong and I'd picked up something funky from flying 40 hours with a head cold to a pair of scorching desert countries in summer and living in a cold [23 C degrees] pre-fab in a 45 C place full of flying dust, chemical spraying and airborne feces]. I take respiratory disease seriously and all three of those were considered risk factors. Still I have functioned as described without fear. Almost as I would have in 2019. By the same token, I take the disease seriously and act accordingly, including by treating vaccination as a normal feature of life in my times, and considering the development time as reasonable under the circumstances. Was each jab a minor risk? Sure. Better than getting even a mild dose of early variant COVID and having it work on my diabetes.

A lot of Americans who fear the vaccine are fat and probably diabetic. They are free to choose, but I think they've chosen poorly.

Sorry to be all over the map. Stressful day at work now ending.

Assistant Village Idiot said...

My memory is that Ottawa and Quebec had similar rates as many US states and not that different than those just across the border. The Maritimes are similar to Northern New England, for example. The Dakotas are different, but that's about it. Overall, Canada has about 40% of the danger the US has had, but the geography might (might) explain that.