Tuesday, December 08, 2020

Let's Talk About Vaccine Safety

 A friend asked me last weekend, 'Will the vaccines really be safe?'

'Will they kill 1000 people a day?' I replied.*

Even if - as I do- you believe that coronavirus numbers are vastly undersampled in the US- let's assume it's still by a factor of 5 - the net death rate is still going to be around 0.5%.  (If you believe we've caught all the cases, I have a bridge to sell you.)  

A vaccine is not going to kill 0.5% of vaccinated people.  On average, almost nobody dies of vaccine side effects (there was a bad batch of diphtheria toxin in 1948; there was a polio vaccine problem in 1955; there are rare cases of Guillan-Barre syndrome;** etc.) 

Please remember that people get sick and die all on their own, all the time, and not all relationships are causal.  People will be vaccinated; there will be adverse events; most will be on the order of "redness, swelling, aches"; some will require medical attention.  

But they will not kill 1000 Americans a day.

(Also, vaccine effectiveness is an observed parameter. Don't expect it to be 95% - which is in fact the efficacy, not the effectiveness- in the real world.)


* As of 12/4 the US is up to 329,000 excess deaths.  1000 a day, 3000 a day, it hardly matters; vaccines are, generally speaking, safe.

** Which you can also get from having... a viral infection.

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