Another missed opportunity here to share credit with Team Trump in the name of reducing the partisan pressures contributing to Republican vaccine hesitancy. No one’s asking Biden to dwell on it, just a line or two to the effect of “we reached one million shots per day under the previous administration and I’ve built on that, taking us to two and a half million daily with further gains still to come.”
But I suppose he couldn’t have said that, could he? Acknowledging that we reached a million doses per day under Trump would mean acknowledging that his “100 million doses in 100 days” goal was a sham all along, a pace we’d achieved before he even took office. The whole point of this announcement was to convince the public that America has wildly overperformed under his leadership in aiming at a difficult target. Admitting that the target was child’s play from the start would defeat the purpose.
Still, big news here, especially the data about senior citizens. We may not have seen our last major spike in cases but the days of big spikes in hospitalizations and deaths could be behind us. Soon there won’t be enough unvaccinated older and vulnerable people left for the virus to ravage. Watch, then read on.
Biden announces that the US will hit his goal of 100 million vaccination shots in 100 days tomorrow — 42 days ahead of the schedule he laid out in December pic.twitter.com/dakY3W9eWz
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) March 18, 2021
Here’s how the U.S. stacks up in doses per 100 people administered so far compared to every other country in the world with 100 million people or more (minus Ethiopia, for which there’s no data), plus the EU for comparison purposes:
No contest. In fact, among all nations, only Israel, Chile, and the UAE are ahead of the U.S. in the seven-day average of doses per capita, I believe. Interestingly, of those three only Israel has seen a sharp decline in cases so far. Cases in the UAE are down from their January peak but still as high as they were early that month. And Chile’s in the grip of a full-blown second wave; despite the rapid pace of vaccinations there, they’re still an estimated three months from herd immunity.
Here’s an interesting curve, though:
Keep your eye on Gibraltar as a policy experiment. The entire adult population has received at least one #covid19 vaccination, 2/3 are fully vaccinated. Cases are about nil — if they stay that way as everything opens back up, it's party time around the world. pic.twitter.com/b5yzVOcLU7
— Keith Humphreys (@KeithNHumphreys) March 18, 2021
At 30,000 or so people, the population of Gibraltar is just a tiny fraction of Israel’s but the results should scale up in theory. (Although maybe not completely. No other country is expected to immunize its entire adult population.) Gibraltar is already enjoying a return to normalcy: “Schools have reopened, as have bars and coffee shops, and soccer matches are back on.” Coming soon to the U.S.?
Yes indeed, says Brown professor Emily Oster, who’s been tracking infection rates in schools for months. She has a message for all the vaccinated parents out there fretting that their young children haven’t received their shots yet: Stop worrying and take them on vacation this summer.
Think about a grandmother who’s received, say, the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. Trial research indicates that the second shot reduces her risk of serious illness by about 95 percent. Her risk of death goes way down too, although the trials were not geared toward reaching a conclusion on that point. (The Pfizer control group recorded zero deaths.)…
Now think about your child. The CDC has published some risk assessments by age. For comparison’s sake, I’ll phrase the findings the way I would the results of a vaccine trial: Being a child aged 5 to 17 is 99.9 percent protective against the risk of death and 98 percent protective against hospitalization. For children 0 to 4, these numbers are 99.9 percent (death) and 96 percent (hospitalization).
The central goal of vaccination is preventing serious illness and death. From this standpoint, being a child is a really great vaccine. Your unvaccinated first grader appears to have about as much protection from serious illness as a vaccinated grandmother.
It would be smart of the White House to amplify that message, reassuring parents that their kids aren’t as at risk as they may fear and giving them an incentive to get vaccinated rapidly themselves. (“You can take the family to DisneyWorld this summer! Safely!”) But they won’t do that, for two reasons. One: The hyper-cautious public-health bureaucracy is, well, hyper-cautious. They’re not going to endorse even minimal risk-taking for something as unimportant as fun. And two: Reminding parents that young kids are all but immune from the virus will increase the pressure to get classrooms open ASAP and the White House doesn’t want any more pressure like that. Better to let parents sweat it out than cross the teachers unions.