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vaccine efficacy and social duty
have we created a prisoner's dilemma?
covid vaccines were sold to us as societal duty. get the jab, stop the spread. become a dead end for the virus. despite the truly astonishing amount of whitewashing, gaslighting, and outright obfuscation on this, that’s a simple, clear truth.
it happened. we have the receipts.
this was, in fact, the underpinning for the idea of mandates. “it’s not about you, it’s about all of us!” the argument was simple: your vaxx status affects me. if you carry the virus, even if my vaccine is 90 or 97% effective, you put me at risk. you put others at risk. you put kids at risk, jeopardize the old and infirm who cannot vaxx, etc.
thus, it is your social duty to do this and our duty to make you by excluding you from society if you will not. and so began a campaign of vilification and othering the likes of which has not been seen since the 1930’s and 40’s in europe or in the stalinist or maoist revolutions.
but a funny thing happened: the basic data underpinning here was totally, completely wrong. we’ve known this for 6 months. these vaccines are non-sterilizing. they do not stop infection, carriage, or transmission. they do not even reduce viral load.
this has led to clear, consistent data coming out of the countries that report it honestly: the vaccinated are getting quite a lot more covid per capita than the unvaccinated.
this chart from gatopal™ @tlowdon makes it very clear and shows how this has tracked over time. not only is this issue not new, it’s getting worse. (the under 18’s cohort is tricky to read as nearly all under 12’s are not being vaxxed.)
the growth trends are not favoring vaccination either. obviously, there are possible testing level artifacts here, but i would generally expect them to favor the vaccinated as there are so many programs requiring constant testing of the unvaxxed, especially in school kids or working age adults and the breakout by age mitigates many as well.
this has been such a clear fact that most have shifted the debate away from cases and onto “severity” and attempted to morph this into a social duty as well. they argue that “the unvaccinated will clog the hospitals and harm society so you must vaxx to protect access to medical care!”
this argument is a clear loser as one could make a far more persuasive argument along the same lines about, say, obesity, which probably drives ~50% of health system costs in one way or another, clogging hospitals and arteries alike. so, unless one is going to also accede to mandatory diet and fitness plans as a social duty, they really lack a leg to stand on.
certain snarky internet cats have opined on this in the past
but, leaving these obvious incongruities aside, is it even true?
it seems to have once been true, at least on an individual level, but that can get tricky.
if you have a vaccine that reduces your risk of death from covid by 50%, that sounds like a big deal. but it might not be. if your risk was only 1 in 10,000 to begin with, who cares? the risk reduction is not worth the side effects.
but what if your initial risk was high? is it then a good idea? well, it depends.
if the vaccines also doubles your risk of getting covid, then no. 2X risk X 50% risk reduction puts you right back where you started and you experienced the side effects and risks of vaccination for no gain. and wow do they keep ignoring that one.
the societal cohorts are so mixed up now as to make extracting data from them on this really difficult. when you have near complete vaccination in the high risk groups and only the weakest and sickest unvaxxed, the bias by group becomes overwhelming. when, because the act of vaccination itself makes you more likely to get covid, it means that the vaxxed groups are more likely to have had covid and thus naturally acquired immunity you add what is a potentially large amount of outcome bias that cannot be quantified or adjusted for.
i’m just not seeing much in the way of ability to pull out the severity data from the UK datasets anymore (or, for that manner, from many others)
this is why i’ve started pulling back and trying to look at regional scale hospitalization and deaths in high vaxx places and comparing them to last year as i did the other day.
if vaccines are working on a net basis, then places with 90%+ vaxx rates should be showing strong signals overall.
but they are not.
here is some more grist for that mill:
this data comes from jamie jenkins, former head of health and jobs data at the UK office of national statistics:
cases look considerably higher in highest vaxxed bremen.
it is ALSO showing the highest hospitalization rates and this takes us back to the possible data issue raised above: even if vaccines decrease the risk of hospitalization or death in any given person, if they also increase the likelihood that person will get covid, they may make that person, on balance, worse off.
and here’s where that really flips to demolish the “vaxx for society and to save hospitals” message:
even if it’s just a push and you trade a doubling of case risk for a halving of hospital severity, you have a doubled risk of having the virus. so you have doubled your risk of spreading the virus and doubled the risk of everyone around you, vaxxed and unvaxxed alike.
and the math here gets decidedly antisocial.
the following is a thought experiment. i am making up the numbers to illustrate a point.
let’s say your vaccine actually does reduce your risk. it doubles your risk of getting covid, but reduces your risk of hospitalization by 60%.
thus, your overall risk drops 20%. (2x case X (1-60%) hosp risk = 80% = 20% net VE
let’s say your initial risk of getting covid was 10% and your risk of hospitalization if you got covid was 10% because you’re in a high risk group.
so 10% becomes 20%, and then 20% X 4% = 0.8% absolute risk of hospitalization, down from 1% unvaxxed.
so this might be good for you. but let’s say you live with 1 person just like you.
you have doubled the risk you will expose them to covid. if they had 10% risk of exposure (10% secondary attack rate), now they have 20%. so they, unvaxxed, see their overall risk of hospitalization rise from 1% to 2%.
even if they vaxx, they’re in trouble because the 20% exposure risk then gets doubled before the risk reduction is applied and now swamps their drop in efficacy.
40% chance X 4% = 1.6%, 60% worse off than they would have been had no one vaxxed.
keep adding people and this cascade blows out societally.
it literally becomes a societal scale prisoner’s dilemma where if i vaxx, you need to to protect yourself from me and this IS you best course, but your doing so makes all others worse off and we are rapidly driven to a low equilibrium that badly underperforms all of us doing nothing.
you need trust to avoid low EQ in a prisoner’s dilemma. you also need to forgo self interest if it’s set up this way, because defecting does benefit you vs doing nothing, but only if the other guy does not defect. and in this case, he probably will.
imagine how quickly it devolves to low eq if you pile a milgram style obedience/conformity experiment on top where everyone hectors you into “defecting” and pushing to low equilibrium.
this is obviously a gross oversimplification and the reality of secondary attack rates etc, but it raises a potentially REALLY interesting question:
is omicron really this much more contagious or is it vaccines MAKING it this much more contagious?
i have not yet looked at this, but it seems a promising avenue to explore perhaps by comparing the testing adjusted rates of omi growth in some high vaxx vs low vaxx places of similar demographics.
going to reach out so some folks who i think have data that could be used to assess this and see what we can figure out.
but it’s certainly a pretty plausible idea given the societal data.
VT is the most vaxxed US state.
but look at what is happening. even adjusted for testing rate, cases are up 342%.
hospitalization is up 137% and that is being driven by the most vaccinated groups.
over 70’s have 15% higher hospital admissions than last year’s peak.
60-69 peaked 42% above last year.
this group is 95% double vaxxed.
i’m just not seeing any plausible way to call that “the vaccines are working” even just as nosocomial trace.
and yet, despite all this data, milgram not only keeps demanding we shock the subject, but is demanding data suppression so you cannot hear the screams.
it’s chilling enough to see a sitting president of the US ask the media to engage in censorship, but to watch him do so to suppress the very data that refutes the failed and flailing policies he’s ramming down our throats is just staggering.
this rises to the level of “full blown cover up.”
no one with the data on their side does this.
it’s as reprehensible as it is damaging both to civil society and to public health. it’s a practice with a long an unpleasant history.
the side of suppression is NEVER the side of science.
fortunately, media has become far too polyglot for this to work. this is a tactic from the old days when you just needed to whip a few editors into line.
hilariously, they are literally building a road map to what they want to obscure.
apparently, the concept of “streisand effect” is one that “experts” cannot grasp.
far too many now understand the heuristic of “that which they seek to suppress is that which you most urgently need to know.”
they might as well be blazoning the cat signal over gotham…
they will never learn, so we must.