NJ governor: Vaccines have proven >99.9% effective in the state

This shows the real-world impact of the approved COVID-19 vaccines, a data set that should convince all but the most dedicated skeptic as to their utility. New Jersey governor Phil Murphy announced that the state is “comfortable” with its current posture on the pandemic, and no small wonder why. The state currently ranks 14th in the US on vaccinations in relation to population, and the results show just how well that effort has protected the state.

Over 4.4 million people are now fully vaccinated in the Garden State, Murphy noted. After seven months of vaccinations, fewer than 4,000 breakthrough infections have been found — and only 31 deaths have come among those vaccinated:

The COVID-19 vaccines have proven to be more than 99.9% effective in New Jersey, with 84 hospitalizations and 31 having deaths out of the 4.4 million people in the state fully vaccinated by the end of June, Gov. Phil Murphy announced Monday.

In all, Murphy said, the state has recorded 3,747 so-called breakthrough cases — fully vaccinated people contracting the virus.

“The latest data carries us through June 28, so these numbers include the 4,432,769 individuals who were considered ‘fully vaccinated’ by that date, or who received their final vaccine dose by June 14,” Murphy said during his latest coronavirus briefing in Trenton. “The (state’s) Communicable Disease Service is reporting 3,474 total positive test results. That means that the vaccines in our toolbox — Pfizer, Moderna, Johnson & Johnson — are proving a combined 99.92% effective against contracting the virus.”

Vaccinations are 99.998% effective at preventing hospitalizations and 99.9993% effective at preventing deaths among for that population of fully vaccinated residents, Murphy said.

As a result, Murphy told reporters that he’s not considering any reimposition of mask mandates in New Jersey at the moment. That’s a tool that remains at the ready, Murphy explained in the presser, but vaccination is a much better strategy:

Recall that the initial Phase 3 testing on the three vaccines put their efficacy levels between 85-95%, and that was against the original strain and early variants. With Delta now becoming the dominant strain in the US, the vaccines are still far outperforming their initial assessments, especially on hospitalizations and deaths. Breakthrough infections were expected to be higher, as were deaths, but instead all three vaccines have provided a nearly impenetrable firewall to serious infection, and likely against transmission as well.

This also provides powerful evidence against the charge that vaccines rushed through on an emergency use authorization should be viewed skeptically or avoided. One can understand the principle behind that pose, but in practice, we are seeing what could be considered large-scale trials of the vaccines before our eyes. Just in New Jersey, we have 4.4 million people fully vaccinated, and the efficacy of those vaccines are obvious in the data over the past seven months. (In the US, that “trial” sample goes up to 161 million, with the 7-day daily death average down to 218 from a peak of 3900.) Vaccinations that prove 99.9% effective against serious illness are nearly miraculous. They’re not entirely risk free, but the balance of risk — especially considering the potential damage from “long COVID” — clearly tilts dramatically in favor of vaccination.

Murphy and his team apparently have concluded that the risks of transmission among the vaccinated are small to non-existent as well. That would be the only reason to demand that vaccinated people wear masks — to prevent asymptomatic transmission to the unvaccinated. That is still a good strategy for those with high-risk conditions or who live and/or work in close proximity to high-risk individuals, but otherwise mask mandates on the vaccinated appear to have no value except virtue signaling. As Rochelle Walensky noted a few days ago, this has now become a pandemic of the unvaccinated, who are choosing to adopt that risk even while vaccines remain plentiful and free of charge.

The vaccines have brought us across the goal line of the pandemic. We now need to learn to live with COVID-19 as a manageable risk rather than an emergency. The more people get vaccinated, the easier that becomes, but that also means that those who choose not to get vaccinated should bear the consequences of that decision rather than shape society around it.