August 7th, 2021

(no subject)

The messaging about covid vaccines in the media, including the social media, over the last several weeks, has been more and more puzzling to me. Maybe because I am stupid (quite possibly); maybe because I am not closely following the data (I am not); certainly because I am not privy to the discussions held within the confines of public health institutions.

As far as I am aware, there have been presented three lines of arguments to convince the population to take the vaccine.

The first one is about personal safety. This has been around since the beginning of the pandemic. It says that if a powerful enough vaccine is developed, it will protect the individual from getting covid. Or, in a milder form, that while the vaccine cannot prevent you from getting infected, it will protect you from developing a severe disease.

The second, least deployed but closely related, argument is about the public spending and the health care system. The fewer people get a severe disease, the less strain they will put on the healthcare system and the fewer resources will be spent on their treatment.

The third argument is a public health argument. This is the one that seems to have gained dominance in the media, whereas months ago it was mostly about the first one. This argument is that while a vaccinated person can still develop covid, they will not pass it on to others. The recent emphasis on this argument has developed into a form of hysteria, in which people have become suspicious and nervous about who they get in contact with, and businesses are introducing policies to cut off the unvaccinated.

The third argument, to a certain extent, contradicts both itself and the first one, because if a vaccine protects the vaccinated from a severe disease, plus if the vaccine prevents the vaccinated from passing the virus on to others, then what do the vaccinated have to fear from the unvaccinated? One response to that has been that the unvaccinated present a fertile ground for the virus to evolve to the point when it can evade the immune response produced by the vaccine. I understand this objection logically, but I cannot imagine that it is the one that fuels the hatred and fear that is building up in the media.

In any case, here is where my puzzlement begins. It has been now accepted by the CDC that the delta variant can both infect and be transmitted by the vaccinated. Which should have reduced the impact of the third argument quite substantially. As far as I am aware, the only public health policy that has resulted from this finding has been a CDC guidance that the vaccinated continue wearing masks. Not a dent has been made in the messaging about how horrible and dangerous the unvaccinated are, or about the importance of universal vaccination, or about the necessity of vaccine passports. Why? Are vaccine passports going to become as superstitious a public health measure as mask mandates?