This has been bugging me for a few weeks:
Stop calling it a “pandemic of the unvaccinated”; that’s just not true.
And it’s not helpful.
It’s very much still a pandemic of everyone.
First, it’s still a pandemic:
That’s the cases-per-day chart from my local county’s COVID dashboard.
As that chart makes very clear, we’re seeing transmission rates comparable to the same time last year, but rising more quickly. (Though it’s hard to visually judge the rise as it’s happening, because the county still can’t get its act together enough to post the numbers every day so the chart isn’t as accurate as it could be.)
And it’s affecting everyone:
We can see that it’s still hitting everyone because the county added this graph a few weeks ago, showing a running average of daily cases-per-100k numbers.
But, you may be thinking, the blue line that represents breakthrough infections of vaccinated people is so much lower than the other one; maybe that means vaccinated people are safe?
They don’t post what percentage of new infections are among the vaccinated, but we can actually get a pretty accurate number out of this chart, since we also know how many vaccinated and unvaccinated residents we have.
Looking just at the numbers for today, we have around 200k unvaccinated residents and a rate of 22 infections per 100k, so that’s 44; we have around 300k vaccinated residents and a rate of 4.2, so that’s 13. Adding those together gives us 57 infections total as the rolling 7-day average.
Finding 13 out of 57 as a percentage is: 23%.
(Yesterday it was 26%.)
That means a full quarter of new infections are in vaccinated people.
That is not a “pandemic of the unvaccinated”.
This doesn’t mean that the vaccines don’t work at all, by the way.
The vaccines do work.
For one thing, they dramatically lower the chance that you’ll get seriously ill or die (though that’s not shown in this set of charts).
And they do lower your chance of getting sick at all (and thus becoming a carrier and transmitting the virus yourself).
We can even figure out how well they work by comparing the actual 23% breakthrough infections with the percentage of infections that those 300k residents would be expected to represent if the vaccines didn’t work: 300k residents out of 500k would normally have 60% of the infections.
And (looking at the unvaccinated rate) without the vaccines, we’d expect those 300k residents to have 66 infections, instead of 13.
So the vaccinated do have a significantly lower rate of infection, and that is because the vaccines work.
They just don’t work perfectly.
All of which comes down to:
- the pandemic is still happening
- and it’s a bad as it was this time last year
- and it’s getting worse again
- but the vaccines do work
- though the vaccinated are not completely safe
So, the sensible approach is unchanged:
- get vaccinated if you can
- stay home when you can
- wear a mask when you can’t
And stop calling it a “pandemic of the unvaccinated”.