Covid Vaccine: "I Still Need to Do My Research"

Intro

I have a lot of frustrations around people's response to the covid vaccine, and I felt like this was a good place to let them out. I've also compiled some resources to address some of the common misconceptions about the vaccine. This is mainly aimed at the people who are saying they still need to do research.

Disclaimer: I am not a medical profession or scientist. However, I have 2 engineering degrees, so I would say my critical thinking skills are pretty good. This post is just my personal opinion. Please do not take anything I say as medical advice.

Categories of Unvaccinated People

From what I'm seeing, people who haven't received the covid vaccine generally fall into 1 of 3 categories.

Category 1: The Unsure

They aren't really sure about it and don't really buy into conspiracy theories but maybe they have some concerns that they haven't really taken the time to look into. I think most of the concerns that people in this category have are probably reasonable at first glance, but if they were to actually look at (and understand) the data, I think they would find that their concerns would be alleviated.

Category 2: The Misguided

The people who have gotten bamboozled by the conspiracy theorists or people posting mis-interpretations of data. I think there's a lot of overlap between this group and the first group. These are people who in my mind are not anti-vaxxers per se but don't really know how to properly interpret data themselves or maybe need to work on their critical thinking skills so that they can better determine what is real and what is not.

Category 3: The True Anti-Vaxxers (likely also Conspiracy Theorists)

These are the ones spreading rumors about the vaccine having a chip in it and talking about how 5g gives you covid and the vaccine makes you magnetic and any number of other things. This is where the main source of my frustration lies because if it wasn't for this group, category 2 would not exist and category 1 would probably be much smaller.


Common Misconceptions

I also wanted to address some of the misconceptions about the vaccine. Like I said, I am not a medical professional, but I'll link some reliable sources for each item along with my own personal thoughts.

The vaccine has a chip in it (to track us)

Short answer: there is no chip in the vaccine. If there was, it definitely wouldn't be able to track you. Any chip small enough to fit inside of a vaccine needle doesn't have capability to track you. And if you think the government has some secret smaller chips that nobody knows about, they don't. The government is so far behind when it comes to technology. They don't create their own chips. They contract with private companies (like 1 I used to work at) to manufacture things when they need it. Plus, they don't need a chip to track you. Your phone does that just fine and they can request the records if need by...gps from your phone/watch, cellular records from the phone company, security camera footage from both businesses and private residences. If the government wanted to find you, they could.

https://www.reuters.com/article/uk-factcheck-vaccine-microchip-gates-ma/fact-check-rfid-microchips-will-not-be-injected-with-the-covid-19-vaccine-altered-video-features-bill-and-melinda-gates-and-jack-ma-idUSKBN28E286

https://www.reuters.com/article/factcheck-microchip-vaccine/fact-check-pictured-microchip-is-unrelated-to-covid-19-vaccine-idUSL2N2NF0XQ


The vaccine was created too quickly

I'm seeing a lot of "Well x vaccine took y years to create! How did they make the covid vaccine so quickly?"

First of all, ask yourself what year was that vaccine created? Did we have the technology that we have now? The answer is no. Technology has been improving at a very fast rate, and that alone should make the process faster.

Additionally, one of the main reasons that vaccine development used to take so long was lack of funding. Guess what happens when a disease is impacting the entire world? Funding issues disappear entirely.

Finally, one of the reasons why clinical trials usually take longer is due to not enough participants. Again, Covid-19 impacted the entire world. There was no shortage of participants.

I think we've just gotten so used to living in a dysfunctional society that we think there's something wrong when things function the way that they are supposed to.

https://www.sciencenews.org/article/covid-coronavirus-vaccine-development-speed


The vaccine makes you infertile

Below, I will link a video from a fertility doctor based in Austin, TX. She explains pretty well that there is actually a good amount of data from women who got vaccinated before and during pregnancy or fertility treatments and currently there is no link between the vaccine and infertility or miscarriages.

Additionally, you have to keep in mind that when looking at side effects or complications from something, you cannot compare it to zero. You have to compare it to the rate that things normally occur. For example, in our normal society, 10-15% of pregnancies end in miscarriage (real number). If we look at vaccinated people and we see that 12% of vaccinated pregnant women had a miscarriage, that does not mean the the vaccine caused miscarriages. What that means is that the group of vaccinated women had the same result as a random group of unvaccinated women would have. It means that the vaccine did not impact the rate of miscarriages at all. It's neither better or worse which is exactly what we want. 

https://www.marchofdimes.org/complications/miscarriage.aspx#:~:text=What%20is%20miscarriage%3F,15%20percent)%20end%20in%20miscarriage.


Most of the people getting covid are vaccinated, so the vaccine must not work.

If you look at raw numbers, you may think this. But if you've ever taken a course on probability and statistics, you would know that looking at raw numbers doesn't tell you anything. You have to normalize the data either by using percentages or by scaling one population up or down so that the populations are the same size.

I couldn't find a good example, so we'll use some made up numbers to illustrate the point.

Let's say we have a population of 1 million people. Let's also say that within this population, 75% of people are vaccinated. This means that we have 750k vaccinated people and 250k unvaccinated people. The scenario: someone comes to me and says that I have 30k vaccinated people and 25k unvaccinated people who tested positive for Covid-19. 

At first glance, I might say "oh wow! more vaccinated people got Covid. The vaccine is making things worse". However, that's not really accurate. We have 3 times as many vaccinated people as unvaccinated people, so if the vaccine didn't work (meaning it had no impact), we would also expect to see 3 times as many vaccinated people with Covid. However, that's not what we see, so it's clear that the vaccine actually did help.

To see this mathematically, 4% (30k/750k = .04 = 4%) of vaccinated people in our made-up example tested positive. In contrast, 10% (25k/250k = .1 = 10%) of unvaccinated people tested positive. This means that if we had 750k unvaccinated people (instead of only 250k), we would expect to see 75k (.1 * 750k) positive test results. This is significantly more than the population of vaccinated people of the same size.

Looking at it another way, if our entire population was unvaccinated, we would expect to see 100k (.1 * 1 million) positive test results, but we only see 55k (30k + 25k).


Why is the vaccine effectiveness being blamed on the unvaccinated?

You've probably heard the term "herd immunity" floating around. This basically means that for a given disease, a certain percentage of the population needs to be "immune" (meaning have antibodies) for a given disease in order for it to stop spreading and essentially go away. It's unclear what that percentage needs to be for Covid, but I think we can all agree, we haven't reached it since it's still spreading fairly rapidly. What is happening is that people being reluctant to get the vaccine, as well as the fact that vaccines are still not available for children under 12, is causing it to take longer to reach that critical mass of immunity.

https://www.muhealth.org/our-stories/covid-19-vaccine-key-reaching-herd-immunity

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/coronavirus/in-depth/herd-immunity-and-coronavirus/art-20486808


You can still get covid with the vaccine so there's no point in getting it

Yes, you can still get covid with the vaccine. However, the likelihood of getting it is lower. The likelihood of spreading it is also lower. The likelihood of ending up in the hospital or dying is much much lower.

To put some (fake) numbers to this. I'm using fake numbers, so the math will be easy and it will be easy to understand the concepts, and also because the actual numbers change as new variants come.

Let's just say that normally, 50% of people who are exposed to covid will catch it. Let's say that 10% of those people will end up in the hospital. Let's also say, that the vaccines are about 80% effective in preventing covid and 95% effective in preventing hospitalization.

What this means is that if we have 1000 unvaccinated people and 1000 vaccinated people in a a room. A covid+ person comes into the room and coughs on all 2k people.
  • 500 unvaccinated people will get covid - 50% of 1000
  • 100 vaccinated people will get covid - 20% of the 500 unvaxxed people (the 20 is 100-80)
  • 50 unvaccinated people will end up in the hospital - 10% of the 500 unvaxxed who got it
  • 2.5 vaccinated people will end up in the hospital - 5% of the 50 unvaxxed hospitalized people (5 is from 100 - 95)
This is a pretty big difference. By the way, the 80% and 95% numbers are fairly accurate for Pfizer and Moderna based on this data. Table 2 shows the effectiveness.


But the Tuskegee experiment?

In the Tuskegee experiment, they were actually denied treatment. There is a common misconception that they were injected with syphilis, but that is not true. I understand that the Tuskegee experiment may cause distrust in the government (and possibly also medical professionals), but this really isn't the same thing at all.

https://www.history.com/news/the-infamous-40-year-tuskegee-study


Why is the vaccine free but insulin isn't?

My personal opinion is that everyone should have access to free or low-cost medical care (including insulin, cancer treatments, doctors visits, etc). I think this is another case of people being so used to dysfunctional system that they don't trust when things actually work the way that they are supposed to. Covid impacts way more people than diabetes. Free medical care should be the norm...it shouldn't be something we find "suspicious".


I just don't trust the government

I can definitely understand the distrust of the US government, but do you have a dis-trust of all government? These same vaccines we have here in the US have been administered to billions of people world-wide.

To me, this argument only makes sense if you somehow believe that all of the governments are somehow in cahoots with each other. If you believe that, then that's beyond me...


Y'all think it's normal to need multiple shots in order for a vaccine to work?

Many of the vaccines that we received as children required multiple doses over time. Hepatitis B, DTaP (Tetunus), Polio, MMR are all vaccines that the vast majority of us received as children and required 3+ doses over time. I've linked the full CDC recommended vaccine schedule below. In short, the covid vaccine requiring 2 doses with possible ongoing boosters is nothing new.


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