It’s no secret that these two things are true: the Biden Administration and the CDC have been pushing hard for Americans to get yet another booster shot aimed at curbing the proliferation of the currently circulating COVID-19 variants, and that almost nobody has taken them up on the offer.
Sure, there remain lots of vaccine skeptics, but the majority of Americans got the first vaccine shots, and even the subsequent boosters got decent compliance. The bivalent booster has been a complete dud. Only about 1 out of 9 Americans have gotten the booster, which pretty closely mirrors the people still wearing masks in public and refusing to hug their grandkids.
The vaccines themselves have been a hit–if you work for one of the pharmaceutical companies producing them. The feds spent beaucoup bucks to buy up 171 million doses, and lots of other organizations are getting paid to push the boosters on us whether the demand exists or not. If you are one of those getting paid to accomplish precisely nothing then you are making out like a bandit.
The Biden Administration just dumped another half billion into promoting the vaccine–over just the next six weeks. I want some of that money. Heck, for a million or two I would get another shot, and convince my wife to as well. We survived the first shots, and I am pretty unlikely to get myocarditis given my advanced age (58).
Whether the vaccine works great (newsflash: it is a dud), whether it is dangerous (it is for some, probably not for others), and whether it is worth the expense on a risk/reward basis (almost certainly not), as a federal program it is par for the course. Very expensive, accomplishing little, lots of graft.
As you recall the rollout was ridiculous. So ridiculous that even some public health experts expressed skepticism, and as a group they have been pretty enthusiastic about any useless intervention. One of the top docs who led the first clinical trials on mRNA vaccines was openly skeptical, especially since the booster was approved after it completed a short trial involving 8 mice.
8 mice. Who showed some increased immune activity that may or may not be useful in defeating the virus. Buying 171 million doses and recommending that all Americans take a new jab after 8 mice survived the experience doesn’t inspire confidence. A bit.
No surprise many Americans were unimpressed. Especially after hearing about potential vaccine-related injuries and deaths from myocarditis with the first vaccines. More data keeps coming out, and at least for younger people unlikely to get severe COVID the data suggests that the cost/benefit analysis is probably not in favor of taking the vax. You are unlikely to die from it, but then again you are unlikely to die from COVID. Why add to your risks unnecessarily?
Further dampening enthusiasm was the obvious failure of the vaccine to stop COVID infections. CDC Director Rochelle Walensky got COVID about a month after getting the booster–during the time when the protection is likeliest highest. If the vaccine can’t protect the CDC Director, Anthony Fauci, or President Biden, why on Earth bother unless you are a fat diabetic on the verge of death?
Hey, wait a minute. That is kinda me.
Now a new study has come out with some data on effectiveness of the booster, and it is not encouraging. Effectiveness depends upon your age range for some reason, and Walensky’s cohort only gets about 30% benefit from the vax. (Read this article from Rav Arora; he deserves the clicks from you for doing a lot of work on the issue).
To draw more concrete conclusions, clinical data in the real-world is needed — and the CDC released the first study on bivalent vaccine effectiveness on Nov. 22. Unlike nebulous antibody statistics, this study examined vaccine effectiveness in adults 18 and older. While adults 18 to 49 who had gotten bivalent boosters were 43 percent less likely to be infected than their unvaccinated counterparts, older cohorts were far less protected. Those ages 65 and older were only 22 percent less likely to get sick with COVID-19 than unvaccinated individuals of the same age.
As tangled as these results are, they must be taken with a grain of salt. The authors of the study rightly note the findings should be “interpreted with caution because unvaccinated persons might have different behaviors or a fundamentally different risk for acquiring COVID-19 compared with vaccinated persons.”
To make matters worse for the public image of the bivalent vaccine, CDC head Rochelle Walensky has shown in real time how ineffective the latest shot is. Walensky twice tested positive for COVID-19 a month after receiving her bivalent booster shot (the window which should have the “greatest protective effect” according to Dr. Vinay Prasad). She tested negative a few days after her first positive result (October 22), but her symptoms appeared to have strangely rebounded on Oct. 30. In light of the new CDC study, Walensky’s re-infection makes perfect sense: Observed bivalent vaccine effectiveness is less than 30 percent in her age cohort—far from the “90 percent effective” health agencies promised with initial doses of the vaccine.
Of course, it’s people who are 65 or older who need the most protection, and they benefit not much at all. Pretty bad numbers indeed.
The biggest reason for people not taking the booster shot is the most obvious, and all the Sturm und Drang surrounding the rollout of the booster has little to do with it: people are tired of COVID. We are tired of being scared; we are tired of people trying to scare us; most of us have had COVID and know that; and we are resigned to living with the virus because there isn’t much alternative.
“Emergencies” are only emergencies when they are…emerging. After a while they are chronic problems. They may be real problems, but you have to learn to live with them. There is nothing irrational about deciding to get the booster if you have a reason to do so; but given the poor record of the CDC, FDA, MSM, and politicians when it comes to giving advice or even telling the truth it is also rational to opt out of the whole crisis mentality.
If I believed that the vaccine was truly safe and effective I would get it; I am unconvinced that it is safe, and it is only modestly effective. I suspect that the risks per individual are low but non-zero, but so are COVID’s. And I know beyond the shadow of a doubt that after the vaccine I can still get COVID and the risks associated with it. Why double up two small risks?
I know the countervailing arguments; I just don’t buy them in my case. I am not on a crusade against the vaccine, but I am also not on the CDC is great bandwagon either.
The bottom line, though, is simple: the launch of the bivalent booster has been a very expensive bust.
That’s a great metaphor for the entire Biden presidency.