The Bizarre Decline of Common Sense in COVID Reporting at The New York Times

Apoorva Mandavilli, reporting for The New York Times back on August 18:

Together, the new studies indicate overall that vaccines have an effectiveness of roughly 55 percent against all infections, 80 percent against symptomatic infection, and 90 percent or higher against hospitalization, noted Ellie Murray, an epidemiologist at Boston University.

“Those numbers are actually very good,” Dr. Murray said. “The only group that these data would suggest boosters for, to me, is the immunocompromised.” […]

Dr. Murray said a booster shot would undoubtedly boost immunity in an individual, but the added benefit may be minimal — and obtained just as easily by wearing a mask, or avoiding indoor dining and crowded bars.

This is like saying we don’t need air bags in addition to seat belts, because the equivalent increase in safety during car crashes could be “obtained just as easily” by limiting cars to a maximum speed of 15 miles per hour. It’s not factually incorrect, but it defies common sense. It’s the difference between intelligence and wisdom. Wearing masks sucks. People want to eat indoors and go to crowded bars. People want to drive faster than 15 miles per hour.

The Times misses Donald McNeil’s reporting dearly. The above nonsense isn’t going to earn them a Pulitzer like McNeil’s excellent reporting did last year. Meanwhile, writing on his own, rather than telling people to mask indefinitely and stay home, he’s got it right:

Nonetheless, data from Israel suggests that mRNA vaccines start waning after six months. Israel is already offering booster shots to everyone over 60. We must do the same. (And ultimately not just to seniors — early hints suggest that the passage of time lowers everyone’s protection.)

We need to get over the current “pretty please?” phase of this fight. Vaccination mandates change everything. Think how different our lives would be if smallpox vaccine was never invented and, every 20 years or so, one third of our children died. That was life before vaccines.

In this country, 99 percent of Covid deaths are now among the unvaccinated. Data doesn’t get more convincing than that.

Death has a false-positive rate of zero.

Saturday, 11 September 2021