In a world where it’s often easy to remember black or white ideas, you need to convey shaded ideas.
And this causes problems: most people consider themselves to be a better wordsmith than a number cruncher. Still, words may not be the right tool for the task in communicating changing or proportional ideas. The numbers are.
This is not as obvious as most (accidental or not) misunderstandings of the general public about the coronavirus. The fact that the Omicron variant is “gentle” than the previous variants is interpreted to mean “Omicron is milder”. The mask prevents some transparency, but most of it is interpreted to mean that the mask does not work. And when the vast majority of people are told to survive the virus, many interpret it as meaning that they are okay to live with enormous immunity.
Therefore, when people read an article about the effectiveness of a vaccine and find out that the vaccine is “ineffective” against Omicron, many consider it “the vaccine is ineffective”. Even unintentionally, it’s too easy to subtly change the meaning of a word or phrase.
Well, I’m going to nail it. We would like to use real-world cases, hospitalizations, and deaths to show the effectiveness of the current vaccine against Omicron, and in some cases its lack.
First, this is Utah data. These represent the weekly average of cases, hospitalizations and deaths per 100,000 inhabitants of Utah since the start of vaccination. When online, you can scroll your mouse or finger to see the exact numbers for each week.
The trend is clear and it is continuous. Vaccinated people are much better off with this pandemic than unvaccinated people. For example, in the last 28 days, unvaccinated people are 2.4 times more likely to get infected, 8.9 times more likely to be hospitalized, and 16.2 times more likely to die than vaccinated people. It will be higher. Even in the last few weeks, when Omicron is estimated to account for about 90% of cases, there are still large gaps.
Well, you may find that this doesn’t take boosters into account. In the graph above, “vaccinated” means at least one dose of Johnson & Johnson, or at least two doses of Pfizer or Moderna. Includes boosted people.
So how does the number change when you receive a booster vaccine? Unfortunately, there are no Utah data on boost vs vaccination vs non-vaccination. I don’t know why the Utah Health Department does not track this. Probably because it’s only boosted by 22% in Utah. Anyway, I hope they do.
However, figures from other countries also provide actual data on improved vaccine efficacy.
In particular, the UK has done a very good job of collecting data throughout the pandemic. Their data show, yes, Omicron has significantly reduced the infection control effect of the vaccine. Look at this graph. On the left is a significant reduction in vaccine efficacy for people who received two doses of Pfizer against Omicron long ago. On the right is how people are going so far.
UK data show that the efficacy against symptomatic illness after two doses of Pfizer more than 6 months ago is near zero, not at all.
But there is good news. It will be very helpful if you are boosted. That number will be about 50-60% if you continue to use Pfizer, and about 70% if you mix and match.
There is more to talk about. Vaccines also help significantly reduce the infection when it occurs, especially for those who have been boosted. Two doses of the vaccine reduce the chances of hospitalization by 51%, while three doses reduce the chances of hospitalization by about 68%, according to UK data.
And remember: these numbers are piled up. This table describes the situation. Boosted people are doubly protected — not only are they less likely to get sick, but they are also less likely to go to the hospital if they get sick.
What we don’t have great data from anywhere in the world is whether the vaccine actually protects us from Omicron by 3x (in a word, one of the 3x vaccines?). .. Is the rare unfortunate soul that would go to the hospital for Omicron protected from death when compared to boosted but unboosted inpatients? I want that data, but I understand that finding a sample size of good data is difficult … after all, boosted people are rarely hospitalized simply because of illness!
But the numbers above also show another frequent pitfall, the oversized value we put in anecdotal evidence. See the 63% effectiveness figure above. This represents the amount of time boosted people are protected from Omicron’s disease.It’s pretty good — more effective than any flu vaccine In the last 15 years!!
Still, in our current environment, it means that most people know who has been boosted and sick. As a result, many would think that the vaccine didn’t work for Mary, simplify it, and think that the vaccine didn’t work.
Therefore, use this article as a remedy for that type of thinking. When you see someone using anecdotal arguments to claim against vaccines in our Omicron era, or worse, “ineffective” means “ineffective”. Please show me these graphs when you say. Please show me these numbers.
When the discussion becomes monochromatic, draw it in numbers.
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