Rhetoric vs Logic
I try to keep things real here, though I sometimes descend into a rant or silliness. The People’s Blog might as well be a private discussion board as normal people don’t come here and if they do, they don’t linger. We can speak freely and acknowledge complications.
When speaking publicly, a less measured approach is more effective.
For example, lockdowns.
Realistically, I’m open to the idea that they may reduce infection rates temporarily in some cases but am against them because (a) the costs do not outweigh the benefits according to my own values and (b) we should not exchange freedom for a little safety except in extreme cases. It usually turns out badly, from banning dope to arbitrary War on Terror laws that are still on the books today.
If speaking in another forum I wouldn’t choose those words.
Ordinary people are not compelled by nuanced arguments. The world’s greatest orators didn’t move crowds by saying, “On one hand, I guess I can see their point of view on x, but on the other hand . . .” Did Cicero ever make a speech like that? Did Lincoln?
Speaking to a general audience, it is better to make simple, less strictly accurate arguments. “Lockdowns don’t work!” “Freedom never trumps safety!” “Lockdowns kill!” Those are messages that cut through.
That’s why Trump was and remains popular. He makes simple, approximately true statements. In his case, though, it was all for nothing because upon winning the election, he lacked the nuanced thinking to deal rationally and sustainably with problems he had highlighted.
Rhetoric is fine for persuasion but should not be confused with truth or sound policy.
I’m seeing this with some of the debates around Covid vaccines.
The truth, by what I’ve read, is something like this: vaccines seem fairly effective at reducing deaths caused by the virus and moderately effective at reducing infection. The exact efficacy is unclear due to the current lack of data.
The team from Public Health England in London . . . found that among cases that had received two doses of BNT162b2, the mortality risk was reduced by 69%, compared with unvaccinated individuals . . .
By ‘cases’ they mean people diagnosed with Covid despite being fully vaccinated.
Studies of the real-world effectiveness of vaccines against SARS-CoV-2 have reported high levels of protection against both symptomatic COVID-19 and asymptomatic disease.
However, evidence on the effectiveness against the most severe outcome – mortality – is currently limited and has not yet been reported for most vaccines, says Lopez and colleagues.
Source2 : Worldometer graphs.
All countries far along with their vaccination programs are seeing significantly reduced, but not eliminated, infection and death rates. There are some exceptions like Bahrain, Chile, Seychelles and Uruguay which largely used Chinese shots. Hungary and Serbia are doing well despite using Chinese vaccines. Click on each country to see the stats. This is where I found the real data on India.
As medical studies have been fraught with problems, these real-world outcomes are important.
Correlation is not necessarily causation, but the correlation so far is much more encouraging than for lockdowns or mask mandates.
Here are the top three countries by 2-dose vaccinations complete, excluding those that used a significant number of Chinese shots.
Israel – 58% fully vaccinated:
United States – 38% fully vaccinated:
United Kingdom – 34% fully vaccinated:
As you can see from the last graph, it is possible for death rates to stay low even without vaccinations as happened over summer 2020 in the UK. Similarly, you can find countries with low vaccination rates that nevertheless have low death rates right now compared to earlier.
However, what I can not find is a country that is 30%+ vaccinated with Western or Russian shots that currently has a high Covid death rate.
You might point to any one country and say that its data is being manipulated. For example, the US’ CDC is now lowering the CT value when testing for the virus in vaccinated people, but not the unvaccinated. Similar shenanigans might be playing out with infection and death figures where leaders are seeking to either maximize or minimize the pandemic, depending on their political circumstances.
However, the figures shown here would require the conniving of several countries. It’s a pity it had to be these three countries that got ahead of the pack. Let’s see what happens when non-aligned states catch up.
It is possible that this effect, if real, is temporary and that Covid might spring back in the future. However, the data so far looks good.
The vaccines have not been tested according to normal standards and have instead received emergency approval. The side effects seem worse than would normally be tolerated for those at low risk.
Based on Australian data so far on the AstraZeneca shot, 58.6% reported an adverse event, of whom 19.8% had to take some time off work and 1.4% had to go to a doctor or visit a hospital. People are mostly concerned about blood clots but that seems to be about 1 in 100,000 cases.
I’ve taken every shot known to Man because I’ve been to India. I never experienced any side effects except for a short bout of the snivels, and I’m the sickliest little bastard I know.
The following is from America’s CDC (their emphasis):
Over 273 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines were administered in the United States from December 14, 2020, through May 17, 2021. During this time, VAERS received 4,647 reports of death (0.0017%) among people who received a COVID-19 vaccine. CDC and FDA physicians review each case report of death as soon as notified and CDC requests medical records to further assess reports. A review of available clinical information, including death certificates, autopsy, and medical records has not established a causal link to COVID-19 vaccines. However, recent reports indicate a plausible causal relationship between the J&J/Janssen COVID-19 Vaccine and a rare and serious adverse event—blood clots with low platelets—which has caused deaths. Get the latest safety information on the J&J/Janssen vaccine. CDC and FDA will continue to investigate reports of adverse events, including deaths, reported to VAERS.
About that figure, 0.0017%: a lot of these vaccinations have so far been given to the elderly, hence you’d expect more deaths randomly occurring after injections than in childhood vaccination programs. There has been a huge jump in adverse events reported for vaccines overall compared to normal years but there has also been a huge jump in the number of vaccines given and the age at which they are administered.
If vaccines were significantly more dangerous than Covid for older people then we should be seeing an increase in total deaths in countries with a high vaccine rate. Instead, we are seeing figures going back to normal, at least in the US. I know, CDC. I tend to trust death rates for the same reason I trust murder rates when it comes to crime figures: it’s hard to hide a body. However, these figures are partly estimates because some US jurisdictions are tardy in submitting their stats. Let me know if you have graphs from other countries.
I am not a doctor.
Based on what I’ve read, I would suggest that older people or those with serious comorbitities consider taking the shot because the benefits so far seem to outweigh the risk. Suggest, not force, manipulate or nag. Your body, your choice.
If you’re in your eighties, the case fatality rate is around 20% and the infection fatality rate is around 8%. The risk of a serious side effect from the shot is way lower than either of those figures.
These figures are not the same for everybody. An elderly person in a nursing home will be more vulnerable than a person of the same age well enough to live independently. In the US, about a third of all deaths were in nursing homes. Some of this was due to returning patients from hospital while they were still infectious but much of it was due to the underlying health of residents, given comparable outcomes in other countries.
Those making vaccine decisions for incapacitated family members should keep this in mind, together with any treatment or end-of-life instructions they may have given you.
This risk/benefit calculation becomes less compelling the younger you get.
Some things to remember:
(a) The CDC’s unconfirmed vaccine death rate of 0.0017 does not outweigh Covid’s (also unconfirmed) IFRs until you get down to age 14. Even if the true vaccine death rate turns out to be ten times higher than that figure, Covid is still more dangerous than the shot until you get down to your twenties.
(b) Young people at risk from Covid, given such low numbers, are presumably those with serious underlying conditions.
(c) Either vaccines or the virus might also cause disabilities etc., which I have no figures on.
If you’re young and healthy, the main advantage of the vaccine seems to be reducing your chances of infecting a vulnerable person. As the degree to which vaccines achieve this remains unclear, it’s hard to say how much weight an altruistic person should place upon it.
Of course, the shot also reduces the risk that you’ll be very ill. I think I had the coof in the middle of last year and it knocked me out. I thought it was a recurrence of dengue but later read that the symptoms I had, mostly a tummy bug and weakness, can be Covid in some younger people. In any case, I lost all energy for two or three months. If it was the dreaded lurgie, I don’t recommend it. The usual side effects of the shot are far less than a middling case of Covid.
One might also argue that there could be yet-undiscovered, long-term side effects because of the lack of testing so far.
Again, If you’re in your eighties you probably won’t be too worried about it. The younger you are, the more concerned you may be.
There are proposals to give vaccines to children. All children, not just at-risk leukemia patients and so on. The risk of side effects may be low, but the risk of the virus is almost zero for healthy kids. The very idea turns our conception of evidence-based medicine on its head.
Since when do we place children at risk – even an extremely small risk – in order to make the elderly a little safer? Serious question. Can anyone think of a parallel?
The rhetoric on both sides of the debate is over-the-top and counterproductive.
On the Covidian side, people are trying to argue that all young people should take the vacc because they’ll either die of the virus or kill grandma without it. Official announcements claim there’s virtually no risk from the shot.
All this is overblown for the reasons given above – there’s limited evidence on either reduced infection or long-term side effects. That will take more time.
Some are still dreaming of achieving vaccine-driven herd immunity which will exterminate the virus. That’s not going to happen. The best we can hope for is to make it less deadly, accept that it will continue to circulate and try to get on with our lives. The quest for zero will kill us, as the search for the elixir of life always does.
One might argue that getting everyone vaccinated will finally allow us to be free. The battles against lockdowns, masks and travel restrictions have mostly been lost, after all. Shouldn’t we give up, take the shot and move on?
Against this is the fact that the goalposts have been shifted many times before, from flattening the curve to vaccination to vaccine passports to 6-monthly booster shots.
There will always be another variant to justify locking us up again.
We will be free only when we regain our balls and resist. Universal vaccination is yet another false dawn. Both our rulers and our fellow citizens will insist upon restrictions and mandatory shots until we reach 0 Covid cases globally, which will probably never happen. Either they accept a > 0 level of risk or we accept a permanent loss of freedom.
On the vaccine skeptic side, there are crazy arguments flying around. People on Gab are arguing that Covid doesn’t exist, that all deaths attributed to it actually come from the vaccine itself, that the vaccine is a bioweapon designed to control the human population.
Someone argued that a large number of children died within a month of taking the vaccine without adding that the only kids getting the shot so far are those with compromised immune systems, i.e. those receiving chemotherapy or who have other serious conditions. Without a control group, those number mean nothing.
I wonder how much of this is pro-vaxx propaganda intended to delegitimize opposing points of view.
Better rhetoric around vaccines would go something like this:
“Freedom of choice.”
“No vaccine passports: protect medical privacy.”
“Don’t place kids in danger for our sake.”
“No medical discrimination.”
Keep it simple and stay within shouting distance of the truth in order to be effective.
Cards on the Table
There are few vaccines available on my island paradise and probably won’t be for years. When they do come, it will likely be that Chinese rubbish.
Edit: While illegal, it seems you can bribe your way to the front of the queue and get a Western shot. I know an old bloke who did it.
I’d prefer not to get the vaccine because (a) I’m young, (b) I’m healthy and (c) I think I already had the coof anyway.
However, I’ll almost certainly be forced to take it eventually in order to get off this island. It will become necessary to cross borders pretty soon and already is in some places.
Why not stay here forever and avoid the shot? Because I really want to get out and I consider the risk of side effects low enough not to worry about it. Also I have to make a visa run in about a year. No wriggle room for me.
I’m not happy about being forced to take a medical treatment I don’t want or need, nor about having to share my medical history with strangers in order to go about my life, but these are matters out of my hands.
I’m not a doctor. Get your own medical advice and make the best choice for yourself. I will not second-guess your informed medical decisions and neither should anyone else.
Having said that, there will be discussions. It’s fair enough to clear up a misunderstanding. For example, if a young, healthy friend wants to get the shot because he assumes it’s been proven to be perfectly safe and he’s afraid of dying of Covid, or if an elderly friend doesn’t want to get it because he thinks it contains a microchip implanted with the code ‘666’ that will bring about the Antichrist (like my landlady), it’s fair enough to offer evidence to the contrary.
On the other hand, if the young person understands the risks and benefits and wants it anyway, or the older person doesn’t want it because he’s happy to leave such matters in God’s hands, so be it.
There’s extreme rancor colouring the debate at the moment. Gunner Q reported in a comment here that his role-playing partners won’t let him rejoin until he gets the shot.
We may have different views on the vaccine but frens stick with frens.
I’m going to get a diversity of responses and I welcome your thoughts. I’m not an expert nor very smart so am probably getting something wrong, somewhere. However, these type of posts often attract comments that argue furiously against points I didn’t make so watch out for that.
Be sure to admire these frolicking dogs before submitting your comment.