Some people just won’t take “yes” for an answer.
Alex Berenson, an independent writer who was once at the New York Times, has been among the loudest critics of the restrictions that have been put in place to fight coronavirus. And, in some cases, he has been right. Which makes it all the more confounding that, just as the vaccines are making it possible to loosen or abolish those restrictions, Berenson is trying to convince the public that the vaccines don’t actually work.
Berenson argues that our focus should be “on the Israeli data showing thousands of infections and scores of deaths in people who have received both doses” of the vaccine. But this is absurd. Only four Israelis have died two weeks after receiving their second dose, which is the amount of time needed for the vaccine to be maximally effective. All four were over the age of 60 and therefore particularly vulnerable to the disease.
None of this should be surprising to anyone with even the most modest understanding of how vaccines work, or with the slightest willingness to look into the data. Vaccines are not catch-all solutions. Some vaccinated people will get sick, some will die. What the vaccines are meant to do is mitigate risk, and my goodness, do they mitigate a whole lot of risk. A new study analyzing 600,000 vaccinated and 600,000 unvaccinated Israelis showed that “the inoculated group produced 94 percent fewer symptomatic COVID-19 cases, and 92 percent fewer cases of serious illness.” Berenson’s point is that because that number isn’t 99 or 100 percent, it’s not worth taking. It’d be laughable if it weren’t so injurious.
Berenson is not only lying about the vaccine being ineffective, but about it being dangerous. His pinned tweet reads:
How much more likely are you to die after getting the #Covid vaccine than the flu vaccine?
300-900 times, based on federal VAERS reports. Yes, 900.
Covid: 1 death reported per 35,000 shots or 10,000 completed vaccinations (so far).
Flu: 1 death per 9,000,000 vaccinations.
He follows up like this:
Source: the federal vaccine adverse event reporting system – 21 deaths this flu season after 180+ million vaccines. (2019-20 was ~ the same.)
That’s a safe vaccine. Those deaths are likely coincidental, a simple result of the number of shots given.
The #Covid vax, not so much.
Can you think of any good reasons why a greater proportion of people who have received the coronavirus vaccine would have died than flu shot recipients? For one thing, distribution of the coronavirus vaccine has been concentrated on older people with a host of co-morbidities. For another, this is occurring during a pandemic that wreaks significantly more havoc on those populations than the flu does. Moreover, the fact that it takes two doses and then two weeks for the vaccine to work up to full strength in our systems means that these populations are still susceptible (although less so) even after they’ve been inoculated. Without pointing to specific causes of death and convincingly linking them to the vaccine, these data points are useless.
It’s difficult to overstate how immoral it is to spread disinformation about a safe, highly effective vaccine during a deadly pandemic. It’s impossible to overstate how embarrassing it is that Berenson has done so as clumsily as he has.