Social media is often an unpleasant place, especially when an ideological opponent of the left suffers a negative consequence after opposing leftists’ preferred narratives. For example, the media amplifies severe illness and death from COVID-19 among unvaccinated Americans with headlines that look like deathbed confessions of wrongthink. See the example below (looking at the replies is not recommended):
— ABC30 Fresno (@ABC30) July 24, 2021
Stephen Harmon posted the picture ABC used as a featured image to request prayers from his fellow parishioners at Hillsong Church, where he was an active member. Harmon made some mild comments on social media indicating he would not take a vaccine if he recovered. Had Harmon recovered, recent research from Emory University that indicates recovered patients are well protected would have supported his point of view.
It is evident from CDC data that COVID-19 vaccination rates in the African American community are the lowest of any demographic group. It is impossible not to believe the graphic cover photo and short story noting Harmon’s vaccine resistance is meant to send a message supporting the preferred narrative of vaccinated versus unvaccinated deaths. The chyron certainly helps reinforce this idea.
However, that data in the chyron is questionable. As journalist Alex Berenson noted in a recent Substack post, monitoring in the United States does not differentiate between fully vaccinated, partially vaccinated, and unvaccinated individuals. The monitoring agencies include the partially vaccinated in the unvaccinated category. They also do not consider an individual fully vaccinated until 14 days after receiving the final dose.
The data also does not mirror the experience in Israel and the United Kingdom, which monitor the three groups separately. On July 5, the Israeli Ministry of Health reported that the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine effectively prevented symptomatic infections 64% of the time. The agency said on July 7 that the vaccine was effective in preventing hospitalization 88% of the time and severe illness from COVID-19 91% of the time. These levels of effectiveness were downgraded from the high 90s on both counts before the Delta variant.
In the UK., Chief Scientific Adviser Patrick Vallance reported on July 19 that 60% of individuals admitted to the hospital with COVID-19 were not fully vaccinated. The remaining patients are either unvaccinated or partially vaccinated, which would be 40%. In both Israel and the UK, the Delta variant is the dominant one, and those nations are several weeks ahead in dealing with that situation. Their data is also more timely and precise because of the nationalized health systems. The CDC data lags due to the decentralized reporting structure.
The media and the health bureaucracy intend to frame the latest COVID-19 uptick as a “pandemic of the unvaccinated.” The problem is that the CDC’s own data does not support this framing. As of today, using Miami-Dade County as an example, the CDC reports a 60% vaccination rate. Yet, they have one of the highest seven-day averages for new cases per 100,000 nationwide at 408. Apache County in Arizona also has nearly a 60% vaccination rate but is averaging over 100 cases per 100,000. One of the highest vaccination rates is in Teton County, Wyoming, at 73%. It is reporting 141 new cases per 100,000.
Meanwhile, White County, Tennessee, only has a 31% vaccination rate and is under 40 cases per 100,000. Claiborne Parish in Louisiana has a vaccination rate of 28% and is averaging 64 cases per 100,000. There are an awful lot of counties with incomplete vaccination data or no data on new cases. And the entire state of Texas is missing data on both counts.
Using the average new cases over seven days per 100,000 should remove the effects of differences in population. Yet, the vaccination rate does not appear to be predictive of what that number is at this point in many counties with nearly complete vaccination data. It is not clear that without full epidemiological data that would include preexisting immunity, recovered patients, and the number of vaccinated individuals, these patterns will make any sense. Unfortunately, our public health bureaucracy ignores the first two categories.
Our public health officials are determined to make this political. For them, it is about the vaccinated and the unvaccinated, even though it is unclear exactly how effective the current versions are against the Delta variant given the data from the UK and Israel. The corporate media is fully bought into this narrative and adds the ideological spin that it is mainly white Republicans who are not getting the vaccine. They will continue making examples of tragedies like the death of Stephen Harmon to drive one narrative or the other. How do we know?
Because the “darn right-wing loon” case was making the rounds as well. The New York Times ran a story about a conservative radio host in Tennessee hospitalized due to COVID-19. When a local story goes national, it is all about the narrative:
Hospitalized with Covid, a conservative Tennessee radio host shifts his message to urge vaccinations. The station shared a message from his wife, Susan: “They say he is still not getting well,” it read, “please pray for me. I am at a breaking point.”https://t.co/T5MO22txLM
— Kaitlan Collins (@kaitlancollins) July 25, 2021