Psaki blames Biden's terrible polling on ... the unvaccinated

I thought his numbers were in the toilet because of a horribly botched withdrawal from Afghanistan and creeping stagflation and Democratic paralysis on infrastructure and the growing sense that his team doesn’t know what it’s doing on all fronts.

But okay, we can blame the unvaccinated too. I’m always up for blaming them for stuff.

Psaki’s right that the emergence of Delta was a terrible break for the United States and the world, and she’s also right that the fact that so many Americans remain unvaxxed isn’t helping with mitigation. But Biden’s made mistakes on the pandemic too. He declared independence from the virus on July 4 hubristically, as the new variant was spreading across the country. He and his public-health team made a hash of the debate over boosters, with the head of the CDC seemingly playing both sides of the fence. And although a majority of the public supports it, Biden’s federal vaccine mandate may have cost him the backing of key Democratic voters like unvaccinated African-Americans.

Maybe this is a sneak preview of the Dems’ midterm campaign if they can’t get it together on infrastructure or if they do get it together but Biden’s polling doesn’t rebound. They may try to convince the public that their dissatisfaction with the president is actually dissatisfaction with the unvaccinated. And with Trump, of course.

David Leonhardt has a look back today at some of the dire predictions about the state of COVID in September that were made in August, when Delta was ravaging the southeast. Because the variant is so incredibly contagious, it seemed like August might be the launching pad for a national wave that would reach 300,000 cases per day or more. But when September arrived, the August surge began to recede — and no one really knows why. “Some activities that seem dangerous, like in-person school or crowded outdoor gatherings, may not always be. As unsatisfying as it is, we do not know why cases have recently plunged,” Leonhardt writes. “The decline is consistent with the fact that Covid surges often last for about two months before receding, but that’s merely a description of the data, not a causal explanation.” Viruses are unpredictable.

The point is, though, that if Biden’s polling were tied closely to the state of the pandemic, we should have seen him recover (somewhat) last month as the country has recovered from its summer wave. We haven’t. Something seems to have changed durably, maybe permanently, in how Americans view him.

If Psaki wants to blame pandemic-related factors for the decline in Biden’s popularity, she might acknowledge the unhappy reality that the Pfizer vaccine’s protection against infection has clearly begun to wane in many people. Disenchantment over the scale of breakthrough infections after the vaccine’s early hope of sterilizing immunity may be bleeding over into disenchantment with America’s leadership too.

Research conducted in Southern California has confirmed the dramatic erosion of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine’s protection against “breakthrough” coronavirus infections.

The new study, one of the largest and longest to track the effectiveness of a vaccine in Americans, found that the vaccine’s ability to protect against infection stood at 88% in its first month, then fell to 47% after just five months

In another recent study, researchers from Emory University and Stanford found that six months after being inoculated with Comirnaty, roughly half of 56 young and middle-aged adults had no detectable neutralizing antibodies against the SARS-CoV-2 virus. The reduced immunity was particularly dramatic against the coronavirus variants Delta, Beta and Mu.

A recent study from Qatar found that protection against infection peaks in the second month following a second dose of Pfizer and then begins to decline. The vaccine continues to provide high immunity from severe illness even six months after the fact, which is the important thing, but many vaccinated people hoped at the start of the national rollout this past winter that getting the shots would mean not having to think about COVID anymore. It hasn’t panned out that way; an infection can still produce a nasty, if rarely life-threatening, bout of disease in someone who’s been immunized. And the California research mentioned above suggests that that’s not because of Delta’s hyper-contagiousness. Due to waning protection from the shots, we’d likely be seeing many breakthrough infections even in a world without Delta, if not quite as many.

Needless to say, however, Psaki doesn’t want to highlight waning immunity among the vaccinated amid an intense federal effort to convince people to get their shots, even as an excuse for her boss’s poor polling. So she blames the unvaccinated, the group that responsible for almost the entirety of this year’s garish death total, instead.

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