DANIEL VAUGHAN: The vaccine rollout is a success, not a disaster

Every night on the evening news, the drumbeat is the same: the vaccine rollout in the U.S. has been a disaster, they say. Of course, “the vaccine rollout disaster” was already the narrative in December, when we had just started. And that narrative hasn’t changed, even if the reasons used to justify that narrative have.

By contrast, the media calls Joe Biden’s plan to achieve 100 million vaccine doses in the first 100 days of his administration “sweeping.” Biden adds that he’ll move “heaven and earth” to get to that “ambitious” goal. Meanwhile, Biden advisers are cautioning there may be a “slow start” to this big goal they’ve set for themselves.

The failure narrative, the big goals, and most negative stories about vaccines are hot garbage. We’re going to hit Biden’s objective through sheer inertia at this point.

Here are the facts as of the end of day on Jan. 17, 2021, as collected by Bloomberg News‘ team of health care journalists: The United States had administered 13.7 million vaccines across the country, or 4.2 doses administered for every 100 people. Overall, we’ve used around 44% of the overall vaccine dose supply, which increases every week. The United States accounts for almost 35% of all doses administered globally.

From the data that we have, around 1.76 million people have completed the two-dose vaccination regimen from either Pfizer or Moderna. The seven-day rolling average of daily vaccines sits at 849,387 doses per day and is trending higher. We’ve had multiple days in the last week and a half where the United States has crossed the “one million vaccine doses in a day” mark. The U.S. should hit that more frequently in the coming days and weeks, according to trend lines.

Let’s assume, for the sake of argument, that we don’t improve on our vaccine distribution at all between now and the 100-day mark of Biden’s administration. If we hold that same seven-day average, we’ll vaccinate approximately 84,938,700 people. Add that amount to the 13.7 million we’ve already vaccinated, and you get 98,638,700 vaccinations.

In sum, we’re right on the verge of hitting Biden’s “ambitious goal” if we do nothing more than support Operation Warp Speed’s current vaccination rate.

The media would unquestionably call achieving Biden’s end a resounding success. If the vaccine rollout is a failure, but the current plan gets us to Biden’s goal pretty smoothly, is that rollout a failure? Put it another way, if sheer inertia will take us to Biden’s “ambitious” plan, is that plan ambitious?

The truth is this: Operation Warp Speed is a resounding success. It’s already produced two vaccines that are getting rolled out to the public and will likely have two more, from Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca. That same program has set up the next administration to be able to credibly claim we’ll have 100 million doses of the vaccine administered, at a minimum, by the end of the first hundred days they’re in office.

If the new goals are a success, then that undercuts any claim the program is a failure.

What’s happening here? For starters, American journalists prefer reporting negative news on the novel coronavirus over anything else. A study that compared U.S. news to international news or medical coverage found “65 percent of scientific journal articles and 54 percent of non-U.S. news articles were negative in tone, versus an overwhelming 91 percent of U.S. media reports,” according to Reason magazine.

It’s understandable why a scientific journal might be more negative. Those kinds of places will focus on the bad parts of a virus and how to prevent those issues. But when scientific journals are more positive than the press, something is awry. American media is needlessly hostile, bordering on apocalyptic.

The study went further:

The negativity of the U.S. major media is notable even in areas with positive scientific developments, including school re-openings and vaccine trials. Media negativity is unresponsive to changing trends in new COVID-19 cases or the political leanings of the audience. U.S. major media readers strongly prefer negative stories about COVID-19, and negative stories in general. Stories of increasing COVID-19 cases outnumber stories of decreasing cases by a factor of 5.5, even during periods when new cases are declining.

We’ve experienced many bad things during this pandemic, but nothing that explains the level of doom and gloom that both news organizations are serving up and people are clicking.

And now, the negative doom and gloom feedback loop is producing the narrative that the vaccine rollout is a failure? As compared to what? What evidence are they using to prove this is a failure? Because all evidence points to them declaring Biden’s “plan” a success in about two months.

Fear porn is not news coverage. And that’s all American journalists have produced for a solid year now about the novel coronavirus from China.