Guest Contribution: “The Virus, Vaccination, and Voting”

Today, we present a guest post written by Jeffrey Frankel, Harpel Professor at Harvard’s Kennedy  School of Government, and formerly a member of the White House Council of Economic Advisers. A shorter version appeared at Project Syndicate. The underlying econometrics are spelled out in “The Virus, Vaccination, and Voting: An Econometric Analysis.” I am grateful for the excellent research assistance of Randy Kotti.

Ever since the 1960s, we have heard the cliché, “If they can put a man on the Moon, why can’t they do X?” where X is usually some goal like eliminating hunger — technologically simpler than the scientific miracle of space flight, but harder to accomplish in practice because it involves human behavior.  In 2021, the salient question is, “If we can accomplish the scientific miracle of developing vaccines capable of ending the Covid-19 pandemic that has killed millions, why can’t we convince enough people to get vaccinated?”

In lower-income countries, jabs are often limited by the availability of the vaccines.  But this is not the case with countries as fortunate as the United States, where the problem is primarily vaccine hesitancy, or even outright vaccine hostility.

Two Americas of perceptions

Many of us think it is crystal clear that the advantages of getting vaccinated far outweigh the disadvantages – not just for society as a whole, but also for the individual. So, selfishness can’t explain those who don’t do it.  What explains the mystery of widespread vaccine hesitancy?  [Personally, I have not had the opportunity to discuss this with anyone in that category.]  In the words of Dr. Anthony Fauci, there are two Americas. Their perceptions regarding vaccination are separated by a wall.

We are informed that those in the other America are seldom persuaded by appeals to the expertise of remote authorities or by the logic of scientific methods, such as the Food and Drug Administration’s trials and approval of three vaccines to respond to the covid-19 emergency.  That is, Moderna, Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson. (AstraZeneca was found among the British population to have proven equally effective.)

The skeptics require evidence that is more tangible, closer to home.

The negative correlation between vaccination and virus victims

Recent data across US counties show a strong negative correlation between vaccination rates and rates of infection, hospitalization or death.  In the week ending June 22, counties where 30 % or fewer residents had been vaccinated suffered 5.6 covid deaths per 100,000, while counties in which more than 60 % of residents had been vaccinated experienced less than half the deaths, only 2.1 per 100,000.  This seems like evidence that is perhaps tangible and closer to home than FDA trials.

The criterion for cause of death in all these studies is whether the doctor or coroner enters covid-19 on the death certificate.  This probably understates the true number of deaths caused by covid-19, as International studies of excess mortality rates strongly suggest. [See this post on US reported deaths, estimated excess deaths through July 10.]

On updated data, a 1 percentage-point increase in a county’s percentage of adults (and teenagers) who were fully vaccinated as of June 9th  was associated with a covid-19 death rate over the subsequent 30 days (to July 9th) that was lower by a highly significant .06 per 100,000 inhabitants.  That represents 2% of the total monthly deaths related to covid.  Extrapolating, the apparent statistical effect of going from the current average vaccination rate to 100% vaccination would be to bring covid-related deaths close to 0.

Figure 1: County-level covid-related deaths are negatively correlated with vaccination rates a month earlier (showing counties that reported at least one covid-death in the period). Source: Figure 2 in Frankel (2021).

But, as they say, correlation need not prove causality.

Perhaps the apparent beneficial effect of vaccination is really the illusory result of some third factor, such as the county’s poverty rate (an omitted variable). That is, perhaps low-income people are more likely to live in crowded conditions and for that reason to become covid victims, while at the same time they are less likely to get vaccinated.  The beauty of econometrics is that one can control for third factors such as the poverty rate or local temperature, to isolate statistically the effect of vaccination rates.

Or perhaps the simple observed correlation between vaccination and the death rate understates the true effect of the former on the latter because of the endogeneity of vaccination:  In a place where the coronavirus is a greater danger (say, because it is close to a major airport or other transport hub), people are more likely to see their neighbors falling victim to the virus and to react by deciding to get vaccinated themselves. This “reverse causality” could work toward an apparent positive correlation between vaccination and death rates.

This might help explain why earlier studies, conducted as recently as the beginning of June, did not find a clear negative correlation.  Only recently has the beneficial effect of vaccination been powerful enough to dominate the statistical correlation. The reason is probably the rising challenge of the Delta variant to the health of the unvaccinated.

Establishing the causal link from voting to vaccination to virus

The way to disentangle the causality is to examine the effects of variation in vaccination rates that is due not to variation in the spread of the disease, but rather to some unrelated factor (an exogenous instrument).  Party affiliation or voting patterns are an obvious choice.  Even before the vaccines, redstate governors in 2020 were found less likely to take steps such as mask mandates to fight the coronavirus.

As has been extensively reported, Republicans and those who voted for Donald Trump in the 2020 presidential election have been less likely to get vaccinated.  Republicans are less likely than Democrats to accept vaccination by 45% versus 73%.  An April 17 New York Times article found that the vaccination rate fell below 25% in counties where Trump won by a margin of 50 percentage points or more.  (And the “partisan gap holds even after accounting for income, race and age demographics, population density and a county’s infection and death rate.”)  The gap continued to widen in July.

Controlling for the poverty rate and other relevant variables (particularly age and temperature), we have found that a 1 percentage-point increase in a county’s residents over 12 years old who were fully vaccinated as of June 9th  is associated with a covid-19 death rate during the subsequent 30 days (to July 9th ) that was lower by .05 per 100,000 inhabitants.  So, controlling for poverty and the other variables lowered the estimated coefficient slightly, but not significantly so.

But even with the controls, the estimate is biased if the vaccination decision is influenced by covid-19 prevalence, as noted.  Using variation in the vaccination decision attributable solely to Trump-affinity, we have found that a 1 percentage-point increase in a county’s vaccination rate as of June 9th reduced the covid-19 death rate during the subsequent 30 days (to July 9th) by .04 per 100,000 inhabitants, controlling for the poverty rate and other variables.

As the CDC director said recently, “this is becoming a pandemic of the unvaccinated.”  More than 99 per cent of covid deaths are now occurring among those who have not gotten the vaccine.

The reason for looking at the role of voting patterns was to improve the estimate of vaccine effectiveness on anyone, regardless of political party.  But perhaps some of the skeptics will notice a higher casualty rate among their group and will change their minds.  One can hope.


This post written by Jeffrey Frankel.

108 thoughts on “Guest Contribution: “The Virus, Vaccination, and Voting”

  1. Ivan

    Since Reagan, the GOP realized that an informed US public would not back them up forever if their policies basically were about shoveling more money into the pockets of rich people. But instead of changing those policies, they went to war on the INFORMED public. They invented the propaganda network Fox to shovel sh*t into peoples heads and go to war with the “main stream” sources of actual facts. They called Fox “fair and balanced” (immediately suggesting that their own obvious flaws were actually someone else’s flaws). As Goebbels noted a lifetime ago; just repeat a lie often enough and it will become the truth (to the sheeple). Connect that lie to narratives that people want to believe and it becomes much easier to sell it. The favorite paranoid narrative being that “big government” is out to get you .

    Reagan set up the fear of big government (to divert from his masters in big business). Right wing media set up whatever alternative reality big business needed the sheeple to believe. With Covid that whole set up became a disaster. You need to trust government and its advice/restrictions, to have an effective response to a pandemic. The short-term interest of businesses can become detrimental, in the long-term, for society (and businesses).

    The anti-government paranoia that big business (GOP) had planned to use for its own purposes got co-opted by “the internet of lunatics”, where things are made up with absolutely no connection to verifiable facts, yet are trusted more than any of the fact-based information distributed by government experts and main stream media. Unfortunately, with the incompetent flailing leadership of Trump and the shifting business model of Fox (say whatever gives better ratings), we are now stuck with losing to Covid-19.

    1. pgl

      Conservative but honest Bruce Bartlett would basically agree with you except he does not blame St. Reagan. Rather he has noted how Newt Gingrich went out of his way to eliminate reliable research replacing it with the like of Faux News and other disinformation machines. BTW – when did Faux News first go on the air?

      1. Ivan

        Fox broadcasts started in 1986. Reagans FCC eliminated the fairness doctrine in 1987 opening the airwaves for propaganda disguised as “news”. Fox “news” (24 hour propaganda channel) made its debut in 1996 taking full advantages of this opening from FCC and furthermore began talking about its “news format” shows as being “opinion shows” – such that even outright factual lies could not get them in trouble (unless you could prove they knew they were lying).

      2. paddy kivlin

        where is the safety data on the vaccines?

        vaers is somewhat troubling…….

        might be the vote correlation has something to do with views on consumer risk which is pretty high for the hypothesis “the vaccine is safe”.

        posing the people who decide not to vaxx as cucks is wrong.

        1. Macroduck

          Um….cucks? Where’d you wander in from, Steve Bannon’s speech writing staff? Wow…

          1. Macroduck

            Really, this problem with finding qualified workers is just out of hand. Can’t even find a troll self-aware enough to ditch right-wing signifiers while trying to sway moderates.

          2. Moses Herzog

            @ Macroduck
            I have copyrighted/licensed the term cuck used in an Economics context on this blog. It can only be used in reference to John Cuckrant of Grumpy Economist blog. I’m sending a “cease and desist” court order to Kivlin’s home right now. I haven’t informed Menzie about this blog rule yet. Wait, does Menzie read these??

  2. pgl

    Folks are having a lot of fun with the latest from Marjorie Taylor Greene. Something about what one’s HIPAA rights are. And the crack about Miranda rights was classic. But wait – Greene may not be this stupid. I would not put it past her to lie to reporters as she does show utter disdain for anyone that gets in the way of her MAGA agenda. After all – one does not need a vaccine if one wears a MAGA hat!

    1. Ivan

      Greene almost certainly has been vaccinated. Otherwise her answer would have been “hell NO!”. The only reason to say anything else is to try and hide that you were vaccinated. Her idiotic HIPPA answer was an on your feet desperate response to a question she had not anticipated (or the best she had been able to come up with). For the other MAGA heads its probably good enough. The rest of us gets a good laugh. Similarly ridiculously fact-free was Rand Paul’s answer that he doesn’t need a vaccine because he had the disease. But at least he seemingly owned up to the fact that he at that time (end of May) had not been vaccinated and left a door open for potentially changing his mind.

      1. pgl

        Yep but this is what cracked me up:

        “She probably also thinks Miranda rights means she doesn’t have to visit her friends in Manhattan anymore after she moves to Brooklyn with Steve,” added Meyers, who is apparently a “Sex and the City” fan.

        In Sex and the City, it was actually the reverse. Miranda was a Manhattan snob who hated Brooklyn.

        1. noneconomist

          In a congressional district most famously displayed in 1973’s “Deliverance “, Marge’s constituents believe her hips are her own business.

  3. Moses Herzog

    I find reverse psychology works well on the MAGA. Just tell MAGA they are courageous not taking it, and that all of the liberals are getting autism and dying taking the vaccine. Tell the MAGA that liberals in urban areas are turning into zombies and eating each other alive. Tell them college educated and PhD holders are dying the quickest. Two months of the reverse psychology campaign and public service announcements from AOC and Bernie Sanders making these false statements and we’ll have 98% vaccination rates.

    Problem solved. No need to send me a check for reviving the American economy. I’m a humble public servant.

    1. pgl

      You know I should be less upset with your incessant trolling, serial lies, and otherwise Sarah Palin/John Bolton behavior as i get you have to be distraught that your role model (Jackie Mason) passed away. So do carry on in his tradition!

      1. pgl

        Funny thing about logistics companies. They outsource a lot of their activity. Sort of like the Uber model of running a cab company. Why hire employees when one can rip off independent contractors with low pay and no fringe benefits?

      2. pgl

        From your interesting link:

        “The resulting deterioration in service triggered numerous complaints from shippers. But one of the big benefits was that the workforce could be slashed, which fattened the profit margins at the railroads. Wall Street analysts loved it, and it was good for railroad stocks. By now, precision scheduled railroading has become the new religion at all Class 1 railroads except at BNSF, which has not officially adopted it, at least not completely. In the process, over the past six years, the Class 1 railroads have axed 33% of their workers through layoffs and attrition. According to the Surface of Transportation Board (STB), an independent federal agency that oversees freight railroads, the Class 1 railroads slashed their headcount from 174,000 workers in April 2015 to 116,000 workers in June 2021.”

        Now what could do wrong with this slash and burn staff business model?

      3. Moses Herzog

        @ Macroduck
        Greatly appreciate you sharing the Wolf Richter article. That name sounds super familiar to me, I wonder if he worked at WSJ some time back, that name is ringing a bell for me somehow. Great article.

        I had a distant uncle who worked in railroad basically his entire life. If you ever go to “The Scenic Valley Railroad” up in Boone Iowa he used to work there after he retired, and was part of a group that brought a retired Chinese steam engine to America (for over $300,000) from a large city there (I think it was made in Datong, but I do not know where it serviced passengers in China, all over I guess. )

        I have a mug with a nice artist’s rendition, which amazingly I have not broken after all these years. I’d use it for alcohol, but it’s too small and doesn’t “get to the point” quick enough. : ) And YES, I have deep affection for railroad workers and semi-truck drivers.

        1. macroduck

          Gorgeous. The local museum of my childhood had a steam locomotive kept out of doors. The budget didn’t cover adequate maintenance and it was rusting away. Always happy to see a good one.

  4. ltr

    July 24, 2021

    American Dysfunction Is the Biggest Barrier to Fighting Covid
    By Zeynep Tufekci

    Globally, the Covid-19 pandemic is a threat because of scarcity of vaccines, with the highly transmissible Delta variant threatening millions around the world who can’t get vaccinated.

    In the United States, the threat is dysfunction, with unwanted vaccines ready to expire on the shelves as desperate people around the world die for lack of them.

    “This is becoming a pandemic of the unvaccinated,” Dr. Rochelle Walensky, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, recently said, as the data shows that almost everyone who died from Covid-19 recently was unvaccinated.

    Certainly the severe consequences will fall mostly on the unvaccinated. But the dysfunction affects all Americans.

    To start with, not everyone is unvaccinated by choice. Children under 12 are not eligible to get the shots — that’s about 50 million young people. Plus, the immunocompromised may not respond as well to vaccines, which is at least about five million more people.

    Then there’s the risk that, especially over time, the elderly, whose immune systems are not as robust, may lose some of their vaccine protection — as occurs with other illnesses, and as we’ve seen with Covid, to some extent, in Britain and Israel.

    Finally, initial data from Britain suggests that Delta may lead to more-severe cases than previous variants. That question remains unsettled, but the possibility greatly increases the urgency for a powerful public health response.

    In addition, Delta seems to be able to evade some immunity, so, compared to earlier variants, vaccinated or previously infected people are more likely to have infections break through their immunity, even ones leading to mild or moderate symptoms, which means they may be more likely to transmit onward, too. Thus even the vaccinated may pose a danger to unvaccinated children or vulnerable co-workers.

    Our vulnerability isn’t small, even among those eligible for vaccines. About 34 percent of Americans over the age of 12 and about 44 percent of the entire U.S. population haven’t been vaccinated at all. Some of those may have had Covid, so they have some level of protection, but that is not as good as being fully vaccinated, especially against Delta.

    Even an optimistic projection leaves tens of millions of unvaccinated people exposed to higher risks of hospitalization and death from Covid.

    Already, we are seeing rises in hospitalizations and deaths, almost entirely among the unvaccinated, and the Delta surge has just begun. Based on what we’ve seen elsewhere, we can expect it to rapidly accelerate and wash over the country fairly quickly.

    The most important thing we can do now is to increase vaccination coverage.

    One important step would be to implement and broaden vaccine mandates….

    Zeynep Tufekci is an associate professor at the University of North Carolina.

    1. ltr

      To start with, not everyone is unvaccinated by choice. Children under 12 are not eligible to get the shots — that’s about 50 million young people.

      [ China has begun vaccinating children and teenagers, 7 to 17, adding to the nearly 1.54 billion doses of vaccines in all administered domestically. ]

      1. Ulenspiegel

        “To start with, not everyone is unvaccinated by choice. Children under 12 are not eligible to get the shots — that’s about 50 million young people.”

        As long as the Chinese vaccines are less effective than US or European vaccines your conntribution does not make sense. It is better to have a group you know that is not vaccinated than a larger group with weak vaccination. Try to understand this.

      2. paddy kivlin

        “The skeptics require evidence that is more tangible, closer to home.”

        skeptics require broader time frame look at the data.

        why start in late june? what is the statistical proof of the differences? what other factors underly?

        before june vaxv un vax uptake states were not different.

        if you did the period from jan 2021……

        and did not see the difference before june …

        there are two sequential hypotheses to test:

        first the places with high cases are now in the seasonal surge for south temperate: tx ala, ms fl, etc, that is if you do not ban observation of hope-simpson

        second hypothesis is it took to june to see effects of vaccines, that is after you count out seasonal surge.

        i have not seen a low consumer risk to discount seasonality, despite the narrative.

        1. baffling

          “i have not seen a low consumer risk to discount seasonality, despite the narrative.”
          if you look at the data, 99% of the hospitalizations and deaths today are with unvaccinated people, not vaccinated people. i don’t think i have ever seen a clearer picture in medical data. if that is not enough “evidence” to convince you, then the conclusion is that there will never be enough evidence to convince you of the safety and benefit of the vaccine. you have already made up your mind, in spite of the evidence, paddy.

    2. macroduck

      U.S. political may well be the greatest barrier to fighting Covid in the U.S. China’s effort to promote it’s own less effective vaccines at home and abroad, rather than to adopt better vaccines developed elsewhere, leaves a very large part of the world’s population at high risk of contracting and spreading Covid. More cases means more mutations.

      So while U.S. politics are a problem for the U.S., China’s politics are clearly a bigger risk for the world. It’s a numbers thing.

  5. Gregory Bott

    I completely reject this article. Vaccine’s are clearly driven by education and class. Pure and simple. I could care less of low vaccination rates in counties Trump won by 50%+ stuff. You averaging those counties ignores low education rates, very low population rates. I mean VERY low. Compare that to New Jersey which’s white’s are hyper-vaccinated bu the blacks are worse than many rural counties. Yet, the state looks good.

    This post and its kind simply needs to stop. Your articles simply are outdated and the “surveys” taken are junk. Republicans are at a total 52% vaccinated, which is higher than Democrats overall. Even when you strip out race, white democrats only have a small advantage over white Republicans. I can’t help the low educated “people” in small population counties. If they wanna be dumb. They will be dumb. But making excuses for blacks, browns and white hippies is a shame.

    White anti-vax overeducated Democrats make up almost 10% of the Democrats base. Is retarding vaccine progress on one end. Its ok to admit it. The far left when it was just a European subculture in early-mid 1800’s was very anti-vax. Some people forget this. Way too much obsession with Marxism when we know from history Communism is French. It was there 70 years before.

  6. SecondLook

    Are their studies that look at the correlation between political beliefs and other health decision issues?
    What percentage of the very conservative avoid non-mandated health care? That group that rarely bothers with seeing a primary care physician (outside of an ER doc), takes care of their teeth (yes, dental hygiene does matter, a lot), getting the normal set of adult vaccines, etc.
    What percentage of those folk are smokers, or consume alcohol non-safely as compared to the less conservative? Or are addicted to food, i.e. clinically obese?

    It’s good article, but it does feel like a bit of a Zeroth-order approximation…

    1. Menzie Chinn Post author

      SecondLook: I’m pretty sure there’s a literature on political beliefs and other health decisions. I suggest you consult “The Google”, specifically (or the Web of Science/successor to the SSCI).

      1. SecondLook

        Sorry, I was being rhetorical. A bad habit of mine.
        My wife’s favorite of mine is “How could I be so stupid?’

        We all know that group behaviors can be predicated on a number of variables, large and small., complex and simple. That a vast number of very good papers have been written on any subject you can think of. And that the principle of parsimony is far overdone.

        I’m reminded of a story by Saul Alinsky:

        “Imagine a large river with a high waterfall. At the bottom of this waterfall, hundreds of people are working frantically trying to save those who have fallen into the river and have fallen down the waterfall, many of them drowning. As the people along the shore are trying to rescue as many as possible one individual looks up and sees a seemingly never-ending stream of people falling down the waterfall and begins to run upstream. One of other rescuers hollers, “Where are you going? There are so many people that need help here.” To which the man replied, “I’m going upstream to find out why so many people are falling into the river.”

  7. ltr

    Jeffrey Frankel’s essays are routinely featured in Chinese media, and as usual I think this essay excellent. What I fail to understand however, beyond various religious traditions, is how a secular anti-vaccine movement developed in the United States. I simply find the movement irrational, and have no sense of why it should be at all influential or of political “use.”

  8. ltr

    July 26, 2021

    U.S. governor blames the unvaccinated for rising COVID-19 cases: media

    Governor of the southern U.S. state of Alabama Kay Ivey said the recent uptick in COVID-19 cases in the state can be blamed on those who refuse to get vaccines, news portal Patch reported.

    “The few cases of COVID-19 are because of unvaccinated folks,” Ivey was quoted as saying in a report on Friday.

    “Almost 100 percent of the new hospitalizations are unvaccinated folks. And the deaths certainly are occurring with unvaccinated folks. These folks are choosing a horrible lifestyle of self-inflicted pain,” said the governor.

    “I want folks to get vaccinated. That’s the cure. That prevents everything,” Ivey told reporters in Birmingham, Alabama on Thursday.

    Alabama remains the state with perhaps the lowest vaccination rate in the country, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Only 39.6 percent of its residents aged 12 and above have been fully vaccinated, compared to the 48.8 percent of Americans nationally who have gotten their shots.

    According to the report, as of Thursday, the state reported a seven-day average of 1,143 new cases of COVID-19, a significant increase from the seven-day average just a month ago, which was reported at just 191 new cases.

    The Alabama Department of Public Health said Wednesday that 94 percent of COVID-19 hospital patients and 96 percent of Alabamians who have died of COVID-19 since April were not vaccinated.

  9. ltr

    July 26, 2021

    Over 1.55 bln doses of COVID-19 vaccines administered in China

    BEIJING — More than 1.55 billion doses of COVID-19 vaccines had been administered in China by Sunday, the National Health Commission said Monday.

    [ Chinese coronavirus vaccine yearly production capacity is now 5 billion doses. Along with over 1.55 billion doses of Chinese vaccines administered domestically, another 600 million doses have been distributed internationally. A number of countries are now producing Chinese vaccines from delivered raw materials. ]

    1. macroduck

      Too bad Chinese vaccines are so much less effective than vaccines developed elsewhere. Given modern China’s history of relying on imported technology, it is baffling than China’s leaders have not sought help from western drug firms to protect Chinese citizens. The simple truth is, effective vaccines are a lot harder to produce than fentanyl.

    1. baffling

      please explain how an ancient chinese approach to rulers is considered a racist comment.
      you cry wolf too often ltr.
      of course, i am sure ltr does not believe the treatment of the uighers by the communist regime is racist. fascinating

      1. Barkley Rosser

        Uh oh, baffling. Now not only are you also a racist, but you have also lost the Mandate of Heaven. You and yours will suffer from floods and droughts and famine, along with all sorts of pestilence, not to mention invasions by barbarians, until you get replaced by another dynasty. Tsk tsk.

        1. baffling

          i have visited the temple of heaven. it was beautiful. the mandate of heaven? not so beautiful.
          to be honest, my favorite places are the summer palace and coal mountain.

    2. macroduck

      Is this part of the whole “That’s racist!” meme? I mean, you’ve come pretty close to calling data racist, so I figure humor is you’re intent. Our host has said he will not allow racist comments, but allowed “Mandate of Heaven”, and it’s his blog, though you take space here as if it’s your own. And you do shy away from the Uyghur issue, which you should be eager to discuss if you truly care about racism. So you’re joking, right? You’re not really trying to play the racism card?

      1. Moses Herzog

        The beauty of this is I was in fact referring to both the anti-vaccine movement and the separate topic of the links. But I knew very well which childish behavior being addressed ltr would be offended by before posting my comment. I didn’t even have to put a worm on that hook, all I needed was something a little shiny in the water and someone told on themselves.

  10. sammy

    ” Republicans are less likely than Democrats to accept vaccination by 45% versus 73%.”

    Democrats are more inclined to believe in Big Government. Republicans are more inclined towards individual liberty rather than government fealty.

    1. macroduck

      No. Not in reality. Republicans have expanded government when in power in our lifetimes. And the voters who vote for those Republicans are revealing a preference in a way that Party talking points fail to do.

      A real devotion to individual liberty would include a woman’s right to abortion and birth control. It would include religious liberty for non-Christians. It would include speech and public gathering rights for Black Lives Matter protesters. It would open borders. No, Republicans lie about a devotion to individual liberty a good bit of the time. It’s branding, not conviction.

      Thanks for playing, though.

    2. pgl

      The libertarian canard for the sacred right of killing one’s family and neighbors. Sammy always exceeds expectations in the realm of the incredibly stupid.

    3. noneconomist

      Never thought of it that way, Sammy. The reason I decided to vaccinate was because of government fealty.
      Had I been a Republican, I might have sucked it up and said,”No sir, big government. Even though this virus is killing people in my age group, I love my liberty more than my health. You ain’t stickin’ me!”
      Can’t understand why so many on this site believe you lack both intelligence and any trace of common sense.

    4. Barkley Rosser


      Do Republicans also drive drunk more than Dems? Not getting vaccinated is morally equivalent to driving drunk. Heck, those laws against driving drunk are sure as heck a “Big Government” limitation on “individual liberty.”

    5. Willie

      Observable facts show that you are wrong about what’s important to Republicans. They spout some libertarian nonsense, but libertarianism is nothing more than the flip side of communism. Utopian pap for people who want easy answers. Neither works it its pure form as either an economic or political system. There is value to both in measured doses. But individual liberty has nothing to do with what Republicans support, aside from empty buzzwords.

      What I find Republicans to be inclined towards, mostly, is tilting things to benefit those who already benefit from a tilt. They don’t actually believe in individual liberty so much as a form of monarchism hidden in phony rhetoric. Most Republicans are actually nothing more than serfs groveling to the lords. So, enjoy your serfdom, Sammy. It’s pretty clear once you figure it out.

      I’m not exactly aligned with the Democrats, either, but the Republicans have left me no choice in the matter.

  11. joseph

    “Too bad Chinese vaccines are so much less effective than vaccines developed elsewhere.”

    So macroduck joins baffling, pgl and Rosser on the Tucker Carlson bandwagon bashing vaccines. And why are they doing this pointless exercise? Just to score some cheap political points, exactly like Tucker Carlson.

    And please spare us all the excuses and rationalizations for this indefensible behavior. Just stop.

    You’re going to get people killed — just like Tucker Carlson.

    1. ltr

      And please spare us all the excuses and rationalizations for this indefensible behavior. Just stop.

      [ Thank you so much.

      I am deeply grateful. ]

      1. macroduck

        No, I won’t stop. Nor is my behavior any less defensible than yours, a troll in the pay of China’s oppressive, brutal, racist government.

        When you stop posting propaganda, I’ll stop pointing out that you are posting propaganda.

    2. Menzie Chinn Post author

      ltr: I do believe that you do need to address the evidence that Sinovac (inactivated) vaccine seems to be somewhat lower in efficacy against symptomatic infections, per WHO. Efficacy against serious illness might be as high as the other viruses. However, merely cutting and pasting various articles of unknown veracity is unlikely to be persuasive.

      The current debate also seems to focus on the (still open) question of whether these inactivated virus vaccines have more quickly waning efficacy than their mRNA counterparts.

      1. pgl

        Thank you! Me thinks the usual on point Joseph has not really followed this conversation at all. We want people to take effective vaccinations – not snake oil.

    3. baffling

      joseph, there is plenty of data to suggest the chinese vaccines are not living up to the hype. my concern is selfish. i want the virus eradicated. that will not happen if we are using vaccines with a low efficacy rate. in fact, it probably makes it more likely that we develop a vaccine resistant strain. i would rather us have a lockdown until we are able to provide a population with an effective vaccine, than to have the virus spread through a population that thinks it is protected. nobody would be happier than me if the chinese vaccines were supplied to billions of people, and were effective. that would be great.

    4. pgl

      Joseph – I am stunned as you are much smarter than this. We are saying take effective vaccines. Or would you prefer people in China drink bleach? Come on man – understand the conversation before uttering a defense of the defenseless.

    5. macroduck


      If Carlson happens to utter an actual fact once in a while, I’m not going to let that prevent me from mentioning that same fact. If you don’t care for facts, you don’t have to repeat them.

      So, you go ahead telling others what they may and may not write, and what they think and who they have joined, and go on defending a mouth-piece for China’s repressive government, and I’ll go on doing what I do.

      Oh, and I’m sooooo pleased to see you have a degree in epidemiology which allows you to know China’s refusal to adopt better vaccines is a lesser risk to the world than people pointing out that China’s vaccine is — how did you put it? — going to get people killed. 1.4 billion people poorly immunized is a trivial risk factor compared to the words I type here. I’d never have guessed. Please, shower with your scientifically based assessments.

    6. ltr

      And please spare us all the excuses and rationalizations for this indefensible behavior. Just stop.

      [ Again, Joseph, thank you so very much.

      Kindness is not to be forgotten. ]

      1. Menzie Chinn Post author

        ltr: What is the unexcusable behavior? People are just noting your predilection for government sponsored sources, and your inability to respond in an informative fashion to debates regarding vaccine efficacy. The assertion that you are a propagandist is, I admit, unsubstantiated, but I have to also admit that based upon my observations, were I to guess, I’d guess you were a spokesperson for the government of the PRC. It is then up to you (in this open discourse permitted in the United States) to persuade us otherwise.

    7. ltr

      “And please spare us all the excuses and rationalizations for this indefensible behavior. Just stop.”

      This was written, and I was repeating what was written and being properly thankful.

      I am thankful still.

      I am entirely thankful to the writer.

    8. Barkley Rosser


      What kind of silly nonsense is this? Certainly the Chinese vaccines are better than nothing, and they have been more available than others, so it is understandable they are being used in many places. But that does not mean they are better than others, and pointing this out is not acting like Tucker Carlson. Sorry.

      So, as of July 6, according to CNBC, of the six nations with over 60% vaccinations but suffering rapidly rising rates of infection, five of them used a Chinese vaccine: UAE, Seychelles, Chile, Uruguay, and Mongolia. The only one that did not was UK. As of July 16, Malaysia stopped using the Chinese vaccines, switching to others. Thailand has added others to what it is using.

      What is needed is for there to be a much greater increase in production of the top vaccines to become available for the larger world, where huge numbers remain unvaccinated.

      I also note that there are clearlyi serious debates over the effectiveness of the Chinese vaccines, with some sources claiming they are highly effective, while others differ strongly. What matters here are facts, joseph, not propaganda from the CCP or Tucker Carlson.

  12. ltr

    Chinese vaccines have been administered in China since June 2020, and through all this time the coronavirus has been controlled in China. There have been no coronavirus-related death of a vaccinated patient in China since June 2020. Domestic coronavirus cases, symptomatic and asymptomatic, have been remarkably few in China since June 2020, allowing for effective isolation and contact tracing. More than 1.55 billion doses of Chinese vaccines have been administered in China as of July 26, and the results have been entirely gratifying.

    1. macroduck

      Menzie asked for evidence. You made an unsupported assertion. You also left out any mention of non-vaccine Covid suppression efforts. I could go on.

      1. macroduck

        Sinovac (Coronavac) is effective at preventing disease at between a 35% rate and a 50% rate, depending on the Covid variant. This is the Chinese vaccine most widely used. It is also the least effective of all vaccines in use, including other Chinese vaccines. China has more effective vaccines, but this is the one China has decided to produce, use and export most.

        Pfizer is effective at between 77% and 91%. Moderna between 79% and 94%. Sputnik 65% to 92%.

        Let me point out it took me less than five minutes to find these facts:

    2. baffling

      “Chinese vaccines have been administered in China since June 2020, and through all this time the coronavirus has been controlled in China.”
      it is hard to argue that the vaccine caused the control. i give china credit, they were able to lock down and stop the spread through social distancing and masking. it was effective. but you do understand why china ran so many stage 3 vaccine studies in foreign countries, right? because they limited the spread in china. it is hard to test a vaccine in a population without the virus. that is to china’s credit. but to argue the vaccine is what limited the spread in mainland china is not accurate, based upon the data we have. you cannot measure efficacy in a virus less population.

    3. Barkley Rosser


      An obvious reason for the low rate of infections in PRC is the very strong lockdown policies that have been in place, with an entire city getting seriously locked down at the appearance of even a single case. That seems to have worked and looks to be largely responsible for the largely good record of the PRC for some time on Covid infections.

      That this is the case and not that it is due to vaccinations is that the rate of infections was low long before the vaccination campaign got going. The latter may be reinforcing the effect of this policy, but it is clearly not the main reason for the low rate of infections in China.

      1. baffling

        if you notice, most of the phase 3 vaccine studies for the chinese vaccines have been completed on populations outside of china. china locked down and used the rest of the developing world as guinea pigs. it is hard to argue the low infection rates in china are due to the vaccine. i am sure it has been helpful. but lockdowns, masking and social distancing were shown to be very effective in china. and international travelers are quarantined upon entry, for up to a month.

    4. Ulenspiegel

      “Chinese vaccines have been administered in China since June 2020”

      Look, Chinese vaccines have administered in Indonesia to medical staff , now they see a lot of these double vaccinated people die in Indonesia.
      This means there is an issue with the vaccine. Try harder with your arguments, ATM you only deliver hot air.

  13. ltr

    July 26, 2021

    Sri Lanka’s study finds Sinopharm COVID-19 vaccine highly efficient against Delta variant

    Researchers from one of Sri Lanka’s leading universities, the Sri Jayewardenepura University, have found that China’s Sinopharm COVID-19 vaccine is highly efficient against the Delta variant, which has become the dominant variant across the world.

    “This vaccine was found very effective for the Delta variant as well. The antibody responses to Delta variant and neutralizing antibodies were similar to levels seen following natural infection,” the University said on its website on Monday.

    According to the study, 95 percent of individuals who received two doses of the Sinopharm vaccine have developed antibodies similar to a naturally infected COVID-19 person.

    The study showed that two doses of Sinopharm vaccine produced neutralizing antibodies in 81.25 percent of recipients and that these antibody levels were similar to what would occur after surviving a natural infection of COVID-19.

    The research team included Sri Lankan scientists Professor Neelika Malavige, head of the Immunology and Molecular Medicine Department of the Sri Jayewardenepura University, her colleague Doctor Chandima Jeewandara and Oxford University researchers Professors Graham Ogg and Alain Townsend.

    Malavige told Xinhua that Sinopharm is the most used vaccine being rolled out in Sri Lanka presently due to the availability of stocks in the country.

    To date, 4.63 million people in Sri Lanka have received the first dose of the Sinopharm COVID-19 vaccine, and 1.29 million others had received the second dose of the vaccine. No single severe side effect case relevant to the vaccine has been reported.

    Malavige said the study is the first of its kind to be published in the world, and experts looked at every possible angle of the immune system from the Sinopharm jab….

  14. ltr

    The point is that the Chinese have been administering coronavirus vaccines domestically since June 2020. Chinese vaccines have been approved in a number of countries and approved by the World Health Organization. Over 1.55 billion doses of Chinese vaccines have been administered domestically, another 600 million doses have been distributed internationally. A number of countries are producing Chinese vaccines from raw materials delivered by China.

    I have often documented the efforts of the Chinese in vaccine production, administration and distribution. What I have carefully documented has obviously been entirely necessary.

    1. pgl

      The point – which Joseph missed – is that the Chinese vaccines are not that effective. But of course we have asked you many many times to address this important issue. And you never do. You are a now a lying troll who no one should defend. And if do not accuse me of being a racist simply because I tell the truth.

    2. macroduck

      You don’t decide what the point is. Your readers do.

      You have endlessly repeated that the country with the largest population has produced the largest number of vaccines. The issue I have raised is the low effectiveness of China’s vaccines. You have largely ignored that issue.

      Command economies are great at turning out big numbers. Not all noteworthy, but it’s all you want to write about. That Pakistan article you posted featured not the vaccine that China uses, produces and exports most. The Sinovac vaccine is the one most used, and that is much, much less effective than any other vaccine in use.

      You are polluting the comments section with propaganda from you government masters.

    3. Barkley Rosser


      I agree that the PRC is to be applauded for producing lots of its vaccines and making these available widely. However, it is pretty clear that it was the strict lockdowns that stopped the virus in PRC, not the vaccines, which while they started in June, 2020, did not get into a large part of the population until much later.

      It is, however, also unfortunate that the vaccines being distributed are not more effective. That Sri Lanka has reported a more favorable result than found elsewhere may reflect their reported desperation for Chinese financial assistance, the nation currently falling into a major financial crisis unfortunately, although the report may be accurate. But it certainly is in contrast to many others in other nations.

  15. ltr

    However, merely cutting and pasting various articles of unknown veracity is unlikely to be persuasive….

    [ The various articles posted are important, veracious and persuasive for me.

    I am always polite, careful and thoughtful as possible. I am rather pleased with myself. ]

    1. Menzie Chinn Post author

      ltr: You are polite. But you often don’t address direct questions — e.g., my question about the Uighurs. Do we have additional info on efficacy of Sinovac over time?

    2. macroduck

      Polite? Not always. Calling Moses (among others) racist is calculatedly rude. And dishonest, though I suppose I should not expect honesty from a professional propagandist.

  16. ltr

    There is of course the just completed Chinese national census, which shows flourishing ethnic groups in Xinjiang; from increasing life expectancy, to decreasing infant mortality, to increasing schooling, to increasing per capita incomes. There is the ending of severe poverty in Xinjiang, infrastructure, especially water home to home, and new homes, work on greening. There are the millions of Chinese who visit Xinjiang and show off and tell about the visits and look to coming again. There are the foreign residents who visit Xinjiang. There are the foreign observers, especially the Muslim observers who visit. There are the neighbors, especially the Muslim neighbors, who visit. Then, again, I know the Chinese commitment to ethnic equality, so often emphasized.

    I know the character of a people who welcomed and protected and cared for Jews during the Holocaust. A museum has been built in Shanghai to honor those Jews. I know a people who memorialize the Shoah in China and Israel.

    Country after country have just formally supported China on Xinjiang before the United Nations. Yes, I know.

    1. baffling

      too bad all that improvement in xinjiang had do come at the expense of ethnic cleansing of the uighers. wouldn’t it have been nice if china could have accomplished all of that without detaining and killing an entire ethnic group, ltr.

    2. Barkley Rosser


      You really need to stop bringing up this matter of Jews being provided refuge during WW II. That was the government that now rules in Taiwan, the Republic of China, not the government run by the Communist Party on the mainland, whose performance across pretty much any indicator you want aside from those tied to having a very large nation with a very large population, such as a successful space program, has been far superior to that in the PRC. We are talking not only about having s functioning two party democracy with freedom of speech and religion and press with little discrimination against minorities, but much higher real per capita income, life expectancy, income equality, and performance in dealing with the pandemic (although Taiwan has just now had an outbreak of the new variant).

      You have been challenged many times by me to comment on this, but you studiously ignore this, implicitly supporting the claim by PRC to take over and ruin this outstanding performance.

  17. ltr

    Again, I have been completely polite and I am entirely pleased with how I have conducted myself and with what I have set down. Also I have been quite brave, which delights me.

    1. Ulenspiegel

      “Also I have been quite brave, which delights me.”

      In a serious discussion your behaviour is not brave, it is rude.

      Bring useful data or put data others provided in a useful context or shut up.

  18. joseph

    “I do believe that you do need to address the evidence that Sinovac (inactivated) vaccine seems to be somewhat lower in efficacy against symptomatic infections, per WHO.”

    What? Nobody owes you anything. You are using the exact same technique that Tucker Carlson and QAon and the Trumpers use. Tucker cherry picks some piece of information, for example the fact that thousands of vaccinated people in the U.S. have been infected, hospitalized or died. Tucker says “Do these vaccines even work? I’m just asking questions. We are owed answers.”

    “The point – which Joseph missed – is that the Chinese vaccines are not that effective.”

    From WHO: “How does this vaccine [Sinovac] compare to other vaccines already in use?

    We cannot compare the vaccines head-to-head due to the different approaches taken in designing the respective studies, but overall, all of the vaccines that have achieved WHO Emergency Use Listing are highly effective in preventing severe disease and hospitalization due to COVID-19.”

    And this is something that Menzie Chinn who teaches statistical methods should be aware of from the WHO statement when he tries to compare effectiveness. You can’t compare statistical data from differing populations in different time periods without correcting for the population differences. The mRNA vaccines had their stage three trials in the U.S. almost a year ago when there was a lull in infections and before any of more dangerous variants even existed. The Sinovac trials were months later in Brazil at their peak of a rampant infection rate with the much more virulent Brazil variants. The efficacy numbers can’t be compared, as the WHO points out.

    And just to emphasize the importance of populations and timing, how are those western vaccines doing now? In the UK, the AstraZeneca vaccine is only 67% effective against the delta variant. Does Menzie Chinn owes us answers to this? And in Israel, the poster child for Pfizer mRNA vaccinations, infections have gone up over 1000% in recent weeks and their institute of health says that the vaccine is only 39% effective. Does Menzie Chinn owe us an explanation about this? Should we declare these vaccines ineffective? Well, the answer is no in both cases because while there are breakthough infections, hospitalizations and deaths are low — the same as for the Chinese vaccines.

    When you say the Chinese vaccines are not effective, you are directly contradicting the WHO. You are spreading vicious rumors for cheap political points, just like Tucker Carlson. The fact is that the Chinese vaccines have been found to be highly effective in preventing hospitalizations and deaths. They have likely prevented hundreds of thousands of unnecessary deaths.

    And please spare us the onslaught of tit for tat citing of one study or another. The bottom line is that all of these approved vaccines are effective at preventing severe disease and death. We don’t need politically motivated reasoning.

    1. Menzie Chinn Post author

      joseph: Pretty sure I didn’t write the Chinese vaccines were ineffective. I brought up the point that in observational studies there were suggestions that one Chinese vaccine might be less efficacious along one dimension than the others. Please find the line where I write that Chinese vaccines “were ineffective”, and provide to me.

      1. Moses Herzog

        Everyone paying attention knew the guys in Beijing were not going to face the “shame” of taking vaccine supplies (either purchased or offered for free) from the USA, Britain, Germany, Canada etc. We can never have Chinese citizens facing the reality that the white devils are better at ANY single activity than the Chinese are. The best you were going to do is Beijing proxies (“regular citizen” Chinese hackers) were going to use internet hacking (or much much much much less likely, but possible, industrial spies) to reverse engineer a good quality vaccine. Apparently (in a shocking turn of events, no, not being facetious, a shocking turn of events) they couldn’t copy Britain or USA’s vaccine. (98% correct recipe ingredients, but sloppy manufacturing processes??)

        But anyone who knows anything about the Chinese TV propaganda (200% state media, CGTN, Xinhua, etc,) mind, knew psychologically mainland Chinese cannot handle taking better medicine supplied by foreigners. It’s like telling a 4 year old the picture they drew with crayons is not as nice visually as a painting by Toulouse-Lautrec. You can tell them, but what purpose does it serve?? The end result is the same. Lots of bawling and gnashing of teeth.

      2. Moses Herzog

        As unbelievably arrogant as Americans are (and Americans may have the world title in arrogance per capita) a great deal of us have figured out the Japanese, and probably now even the South Koreans build a much better car than we do. We can accept a Chinese meal often tastes better than a pizza or a hamburger. It’s not a great leap to accept these things. This is something mainland Chinese cannot not even come close to metabolizing. It is 24/7 “China numbaw 1, China Numbaw 1, China numbaw 1” and Hell hath no fury like a (typical) mainland Chinese ever told different.

    2. ltr


      Thank you ever so much for the necessary and especially clear explanation. I would not have had the proper words.

      I am deeply grateful for what you have taught. What a remarkable service.

      Thank you, Joseph.

    3. joseph

      Sorry if not clear, the quote above is from pgl: “The point – which Joseph missed – is that the Chinese vaccines are not that effective.

      I just don’t get it. You go to Fox News and all they do is talk dirt about the U.S. vaccines. For what reason? Just so they can own the libs.

      And then you come here and everyone wants to talk dirt about the Chinese vaccines. For what reason? i don’t know but I guess to own ltr or the Chinese or whatever.

      It’s weird, like everyone has gone crazy from pandemic fatigue. I thought I could expect better from here but I guess I was wrong.

      1. pgl

        I tried to be nice but damn – accusing me of repeating what is on Faux News? Sorry dude – but your replies are dishonest.

      2. Moses Herzog

        @ joseph
        If you’re saying “Sinovac is better than nothing” you are correct. If you are saying “Sinovac was the best Beijing officials could have done”, that would be incorrect. “Something is better than nothing” is how you answer for an increased death rate?? Joseph, I don’t doubt at all you have good intentions, but I think something was “lost in translation” here for you.

        It’s pretty damned hard to deny after the numbers from Brazil (and Indonesia etc), the original efficacy numbers for Sinovac were very inaccurate. The only other explanation here is that the Chinese bureaucrats said “to Hell with Brazilians, send then the ‘bad batch’ of vaccine.” Even I am not that cynical about the Chinese leadership, and trust me, I have plenty of personal reasons that might motivate me to “go there”.

        1. Moses Herzog

          * end of 2nd-to-last sentence in my above comment should read “…… send them the ‘bad batch’ of vaccine”

    4. baffling

      joseph, there are legitimate questions about the chinese vaccines, as in the case of seychelles
      80% of the population was vaccinated, and yet the virus was still spreading. i will agree, the vaccine is beneficial for helping to reduce hospitalizations and deaths. that is a good thing. but it also seems to permit the virus to continue circulating in the environment. this poses a risk of vaccine resistant viruses. and it poses a risk to the unvaccinated. there has been a narrative that once vaccinated, people can return to normal. and this very well may be the case with the usa based vaccines. but it very well may not be the case with the chinese vaccines. and if that is the reality, then how we distribute and act with those vaccines must be different. its not that we don’t use them, but if we do, nations appear to need to have more of the population vaccinated before returning to normal. don’t you agree, joseph?

    5. Barkley Rosser


      Are you aware that Astrazeneca is not an mRNA vaccine. It looks very much like those are the most effective, although there are indeed competing studies. But you have to look hard to find ones claiming really good performances by the Chinese ones as opposed to mediocre ones, such as the Sri Lanka study that ltr of course reported on.

      Really, joseph, I have never seen you be anywhere this out of it here on any thread. What is the matter with you?

  19. ltr

    “The fact is that the Chinese vaccines have been found to be highly effective in preventing hospitalizations and deaths. They have likely prevented hundreds of thousands of unnecessary deaths.”

    — Joseph

  20. joseph

    baffling: ” i will agree, the vaccine is beneficial for helping to reduce hospitalizations and deaths. that is a good thing. but it also seems to permit the virus to continue circulating in the environment. this poses a risk of vaccine resistant viruses.”

    Have you looked at what is happening in the UK and Israel. In the UK cases have surged to over 50,000 a day. The NHS says that AstraZeneca is showing only 67% effectiveness. And the same seems to be in the very early stages in the U.S. You are starting to see thousands of cases of vaccination breakthroughs.

    In Israel, one of the most mRNA vaccinated countries in the world, cases have recently surged from 10 per day to over 2000 per day. The national health service says that the Pfizer mRNA vaccine is only 39% effective at preventing infections.

    As you say, the vaccines seem to permit the virus to continue circulating.

    But the vaccines are very effective in reducing severe cases and deaths, as is also true for the Chinese vaccines.

    1. Barkley Rosser

      Sorry, joseph, but it looks like you are presenting false “dala.”

      Yesterday does report a decline in effectiveness of Pfizer against the delta variant from the alpha, with the decline being from over 90% to 64%. Effectiveness against getting serious illness is still at 93%. Your “39%” looks to be fake news.

      Why are you pushing this flaming bs? Again, what has happened to you?

    2. joseph

      CNBC: Israel says Pfizer Covid vaccine is just 39% effective as delta spreads, but still prevents severe illness.

      “The efficacy figure, which is based on an unspecified number of people between June 20 and July 17, is down from an earlier estimate of 64% two weeks ago according to a report from the Israel Health Ministry.

      Sorry, but your data is weeks out of date, Rosser. Why do you keep pushing “it’s us against the Chinese” BS? It’s silly and juvenile.

      1. Barkley Rosser


        OK, new numbers, although “based on an unspecified number of people.”

        Look, I have been more willing than many to grant that despite their apparently not all that good record in many places (but better in some others) the Chinese providing vaccines more widely than other nations is a good thing. I am also, more than many here, more willing to grant some good things going on in the PRC when ltr points them out.

        So, don’t get on my case about me “pushing ‘it’s us against the Chinese.” In fact the Chinese are doing some pretty awful things, which neither you nor ltr seem willing to admit. Do you think when ltr posts blatantly misleading propaganda here everybody should just do like you seem to be doing and go, “Wow, great! Hurrah for China!!!” ?

  21. joseph

    CNN: “Pfizer data suggest third dose of Covid-19 vaccine ‘strongly’ boosts protection against Delta variant”

    So Pfizer is recognizing their their two-dose vaccine has reduced efficacy and might require a third dose.

    The point being, as the WHO report above said: “We cannot compare the vaccines head-to-head due to the different approaches taken in designing the respective studies.”

    But that is exactly what everyone is doing here when they try to say this vaccine is effective and that vaccine is not effective. They are trying to compare different trials with different populations at different points in time against different variants of the coronavirus. You should just stop because that is bad science.

    The mRNA vaccines started their phase 3 trials and got their initial stellar results almost a year ago in the U.S. when none of the more virulent variants even existed. As populations and variants have changed over time their initial efficacy has declined. Meanwhile the Chinese started their phase 3 trials months later in the midst of the much more virulent Brazil and Indian variants.

    You can’t directly compare their results. And even if there are some differences in initial efficacy, they all are effective at preventing severe disease and death. So what’s the point? Are you trying to get people killed by discouraging vaccinations?

    It’s a stupid childish game motivated by politics. I’m really disappointed that the supposedly smart people here are behaving no better than the Trumpists, tossing away their good sense in deference to their nationalistic hind brain.

  22. joseph

    Barkley Rosser: “Look, I have been more willing than many to grant that despite their apparently not all that good record in many places (but better in some others) the Chinese providing vaccines more widely than other nations is a good thing.”

    Thank you. And that is all I have been saying here — that the Chinese providing vaccines more widely than other nations is a good thing. It’s saving many thousands of lives.

    But folks here have been bending the truth just to support their political feelings about other Chinese issues. And spreading vaccine doubts to score points is not any different than Fox News.

    I am not a fan of the Chinese government’s behavior on many issues. But I try to be objective about it and keep separate things separate. It’s not that hard to say Uighar treatment bad, vaccine distribution good.

    It’s a sobering thought to consider perhaps an authoritarian regime might be better at saving the world from a global health crisis than a capitalist system bogged down in business contracts and litigation and intellectual property and shareholder rights and profit-seeking. One would hope we could learn from this and do better.

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