Vaccines, Reasons for Concern
Do the Covid vaccines work? If so, how well?
These questions are separate from the issue of whether vaccines should be mandated or their side effects. No serious person thinks masks protect their wearers, for example, but we mandated those for more than a year.
But as we enter an ugly new phase in the vaccine debate, I want to offer a theoretical framework to help think about the data we’re seeing – and to explain why these questions would be hard to answer even if the public health authorities were being honest.
To be clear, I’m focusing on the vaccines used in Western countries, especially the Pfizer and Moderna mRNA vaccines, which are now essentially the only vaccines used in the United States. (The AstraZeneca DNA/AAV vaccine is still widely used in Europe.)
Also to be clear, in this piece, I am not discussing how the vaccines work at the cellular level. Instead I’m looking at the population-level data we are now seeing – how many people are being infected with or dying from Covid.
It’s crucial to remember that “work” is a highly elastic term. The spectrum runs from:
1) Vaccines end disease in essentially everyone, essentially forever. (This wouldn’t be impossible; it is true for some other vaccines.)
2) Vaccines do not eliminate all cases, but they work very well, especially against severe disease or death.
3) Vaccines reduce dise
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