DANIEL VAUGHAN: National press falsely downplays vaccine effectiveness

We live in two Americas when it comes to the pandemic. There’s the truth and what actual science says about vaccines, and there’s the American national press. These two points rarely intersect, and this week, the divergence blew apart.

The first stories were about the newest set of studies around Pfizer and Moderna. Those companies received their first reports back on the status of vaccine effectiveness at the six-month mark. The typical headline in the media: “COVID Vaccine Offers Protection for at Least 6 Months.” Except that’s not what the studies were about, nor did they cover. People aren’t losing vaccine effectiveness at six months. These studies were the six-month check-ins on people who had the vaccination.

The actual study in the New England Journal of Medicine said, “Antibody activity remained high in all age groups at day 209.” They concluded:

Although the antibody titers and assays that best correlate with vaccine efficacy are not currently known, antibodies that were elicited by [Moderna] persisted through 6 months after the second dose, as detected by three distinct serologic assays. Ongoing studies are monitoring immune responses beyond 6 months as well as determining the effect of a booster dose to extend the duration and breadth of activity against emerging viral variants. Our data show antibody persistence and thus support the use of this vaccine in addressing the Covid-19 pandemic.

That’s a very wordy way of saying: the vaccines are still working vigorously at the six-month mark. We don’t know how long that effectiveness can last long term, but we’re still monitoring it. I had multiple people reach out to me asking what we were going to do if vaccines only lasted six months based on how the media covered it. After explaining what the study measured, everyone was much more at ease.

This is a novel virus and disease. We don’t know many things about it still, but we do know these vaccines are pummeling this virus from China, and unlike China, we don’t have to lie about our vaccination results.

This week’s second dumb media story was a scaremongering headline in Reuters and elsewhere that said the South African variant could “break through” vaccine protection. They made wild claims that the South African variant of COVID-19 could break through the defenses of vaccination protection, which would be a serious charge.

Except that’s not what the study said at all.

One of the study authors took to Twitter to defend what they published and push back against this false narrative. They said:

To summarize: we see evidence for reduced vaccine effectiveness against the British variant, but after two doses – extremely high effectiveness kicks in. We see evidence for reduced vaccine effectiveness against the [South African] variant, but it does not spread in Israel.

We think that this reduced effectiveness occurs only in a short window of time (no [South African variant] cases 14+ days post 2nd dose), and that the South African variant does not spread efficiently. Thus, even more of a reason to get vaccinated and drive down cases to zero!

In short, while it’s possible a small number of people could get the variants, the virus overall is finding it impossible to spread in vaccinated communities. In other words, it’s the exact opposite of the fearmongering in the media.

Finally, CNN went above and beyond everyone when they shared a story that only proves that they don’t understand a single thing about vaccines. CNN decided to run a story telling people what to expect when they flew on airlines.

CNN astonishingly claimed, “vaccines show they are only 90% protective against the coronavirus, not 95% as reported in clinical trials. Translated into reality, that means for every million fully vaccinated people who fly, some 100,000 could still become infected.”

Not only is this math and reasoning wrong, but it also doesn’t even apply to the unvaccinated population!

As Phillip Klein at National Review points out, “Translated into actual reality, a 90 percent effective vaccine refers to the reduction in odds of a vaccinated person being infected relative to somebody who has not taken the vaccine. That is, in a given group of, say, 2,000 people, if 100 unvaccinated people would ordinarily get COVID-19, just 10 vaccinated people in the same sized group would get the virus. It doesn’t mean that 200 vaccinated people would get the virus!”

CNN is claiming, with no proof, that without a vaccine, every single person on a flight would get infected, which we know is patently false based on real-world experience and evidence.

CNN’s point might as well be an anti-vaccine talking point. Pre-pandemic, between 2-3 million people could fly in a given day. If everyone is vaccinated, CNN assumes as many as 200-300 thousand people would get vaccinated from flying alone. Even at the pandemic’s height over winter when daily caseloads were the worst, we rarely came close to hitting those kinds of statistics.

Covering a pandemic is hard. Math and science are complicated. But this is only one week in the more than a year situation we’ve endured. And instead of praising vaccines and reporting truthfully, these so-called news outlets are running out every chance they get to push out highly negative stories regarding vaccines. And remember, these are vaccines that have proven to be miracles!

We have people who have experienced lingering effects from COVID-19 for months, some nearly a year. After getting vaccinated, their symptoms cleared up. What Operation Warp Speed and these pharmaceutical companies have done is nothing short of a miracle, and the American press is bizarrely desperate to downplay that good news.

Go get vaccinated and prove the American media and their fake news wrong. They seem to want these restrictions and bad news to last. But they can’t get away with lying and misinforming the public about the miracles we’ve produced and which are free for every American.