Is … is Twitter anti-vax now?
I mean, I know Alex Berenson drives a lot of traffic to the site.
And Jack Dorsey’s always had a New Age vibe about him. You know how New Agers are about vaccines and “wellness.”
No, actually, this unfortunate outcome almost certainly has a mundane explanation:
Twitter has an algorithm problem. In trying to filter out anti-vax propaganda, they probably set up a watchlist for tweets containing the words “COVID,” “flu,” and “less deadly,” since many a COVID denier is prone to using those terms to underplay the severity of the disease. Remember all the nonsense at the beginning of the pandemic about how COVID was supposedly “just the flu” or potentially even “less deadly than the flu”?
I was making the opposite point using the same keywords but the algorithm was too crude to detect that. So my tweet got put in timeout the way one of Trump’s tweets occasionally would when he got a little too incendiary or mendacious. Result: No one on the platform can retweet it or reply to it even though it, uh, makes a strong case in favor of vaccination.
What I need to do now is figure out a way to monetize my new “Big Tech martyr” status. I could do a slew of whiny media appearances, but I’m more inclined to set up a “Justice for Allahpundit” GoFundMe.
The only way to stick it to Silicon Valley and avenge this searing injustice is to send me cash.
Seriously, though, the algorithm snafu may be a blessing in disguise. It’s caused the tweet to get more attention on Twitter today than it otherwise would have, which is welcome because I really do think the COVID/flu comparison could be useful in explaining the benefits of the vaccine to the skeptical. The last pre-pandemic winter brought nearly 22,000 deaths from flu or “influenza-like illnesses,” according to the CDC. That’s par for the course in an average year yet Americans are so inured to the small risk of dying from flu that many don’t bother visiting the local pharmacy for the flu shot even though it’s free to those with insurance. By comparison, the CDC has detected just 74 deaths from COVID so far among 66 million vaccinated people. Extrapolating that out, we’d expect something like 400 deaths total — total — in the United States from the coronavirus if every American got their two doses.
Which is to say, if you’re unvaccinated and were somehow given a choice between being exposed to the flu or to SARS-CoV-2, you’d choose the flu all day long. But if you’re vaccinated, the calculus changes. The COVID vaccines are so amazingly effective that, forced to choose between the flu and a pathogen that’s killed 580,000 people and counting, it’s a no-brainer that you should take your chances with the coronavirus.
It’d be nice if the pros could get that message out, especially to the red states. Because this is not looking good:
The same article compares blue states to red ones in terms of (1) estimated vaccine hesitancy among the population and (2) the share of each state’s population that’s already received their first dose. The correlations are stunning. Practically all blue states have done better than red ones in finding willing recipients to get their shots so far, and some of the more poorly performing blue ones (Georgia, Michigan) are much more purple than blue. Just one blue state, Georgia, is below 30 percent in terms of the number who have had their first dose; by comparison, just one red state, South Dakota, is north of 40 percent.
If this keeps up, we’re headed for a two-track pandemic this fall in which the virus is less prevalent in blue jurisdictions and more prevalent in red ones. (Including red areas within blue states.) Not only does that mean more human misery among Republicans, it may mean a slower economic recovery as workers continue to fall sick and businesses avoid contracting with businesses in redder areas for fear of COVID-related disruptions. Although the “lockdown forever” mentality of some Democratic officials may end up squandering their economic advantage relative to red states by keeping some businesses operating at lower capacities for longer than the science demands. We’ll see.
Here’s Fauci this morning on CNN wondering why Republicans who complain so loudly about masks and pandemic restrictions are also the segment of the population most likely to refuse a pharmaceutical treatment that’ll make masks and restrictions unnecessary. When the guy’s right, he’s right.
Fauci on vaccine hesitant Republicans: "It's almost paradoxical that on the one hand they want to be relieved of the [public health] restrictions, but on the other hand they don't want to get vaccinated. It just almost doesn't make any sense." pic.twitter.com/XwCRAgvWwj
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) April 18, 2021