Vaccines are not useless, by a long shot! But the figures we get from the province of Manitoba could be presented more effectively. Their numbers are deceiving. Tom Brodbeck of the Winnipeg Free Press described the problem well:
“If the province wants to show how effective COVID-19 vaccines are at reducing infections and hospitalizations, it should clarify the data it gives to the public. What it releases now in the regular infection and hospitalization reports is misleading.”
Here is the problems. The province displays the stats for Covid-19 cases by stating the total number of new cases and then dividing those into fully vaccinated, partially vaccinated, and unvaccinated. The number of vaccinated people who get Covid-19 has been rising steadily in comparison to the unvaccinated people. Sometimes almost as many fully vaccinated people have caught the virus as unvaccinated. How can that be? If you are not careful you might think that means the vaccines are not very ineffective.
What people forget is that the number of Manitobans who have been fully vaccinated has been increasing. I had a friend of mine ask me exactly the same question. It is easy to get fooled. The reason this is misleading is that the province doesn’t give us all the information we need. Brodbeck explained the issue this way:
“The answer is that the proportion of fully vaccinated people who test positive, or require a hospital bed, is substantially lower than those who are not immunized.
For example, if the province reports 100 new infections and breaks it down between 60 unvaccinated and 40 vaccinated, it doesn’t appear there’s a big difference between the two. But when the proportion of those who are immunized and non-immunized is reported, a far more accurate picture emerges.
The 40 fully vaccinated people infected represent about four per 100,000 immunized people (there are 1.02 million fully vaccinated Manitobans). The 60 people who were not immunized represent about 17 per 100,000 unvaccinated people (approximately 360,000 Manitobans are not fully vaccinated) — just over four times higher than those with a double dose.”
Clearly your chances of getting Covid-19 are much higher for the unvaccinated people than the fully vaccinated people. That is because that 60% of new cases for unvaccinated people has a much smaller poor to draw from.
As Brodbeck added,
“It’s the same with hospitalizations. The province provides daily updates on the percentage of vaccinated and unvaccinated people who end up in hospital, including in intensive care wards. On Thursday, public health reported that 51 per cent of active hospitalizations were among the unvaccinated, three per cent were partially immunized and 45 per cent fully vaccinated. From those statistics, it doesn’t appear vaccines provide much protection. But as a percentage of those immunized, they do. The 39 fully vaccinated hospital cases represent four per 100,000 fully vaccinated people. The 44 who were not immunized represent 12 per 100,000 unvaccinated people, three times the rate of those fully vaxxed.”
The province is not trying to hide these figures; they are just not doing a very good job of presenting them. If they did a better job more people would understand that vaccines are very effective. Everyone should take them! This would be easy to do. The Covid-19 team is doing a great job of protecting us. But they could do a much better job of selling themselves.
Brodbeck gave us another example:
“Instead of only reporting the 115 unvaccinated and 64 vaccinated COVID- 19 cases Thursday, public health officials could have added that 32 per 100,000 were unvaccinated and six per 100,000 were fully vaccinated. It would give the public a far more accurate picture of the effectiveness of vaccines.”
In other words, on a per capita basis unvaccinated people who caught Covid-19 on Thursday outnumbered fully vaccinated people who caught Covid-19 by more than 5 to 1!
Added to that, new Covid-19 cases are not the most important issue. Hospitalizations are much more important. It does not matter so much if you get covid-19 but do not get seriously sick. That is really what vaccines are for. Most people who get seriously sick are unvaccinated and the number per 100,000 is much higher than for full-vaccinated people.
If the Covid-19 team could do a better job of communicating to us we would all benefit because more people would realize vaccines work.