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Archive for August, 2021

Vaccination is Good, But the Current Vaccination Strategy (of Overwhelming Fear/Hysteria) Will Fail to Convince Sceptical People

tl;dr: vaccination is good, but the communication strategy is bad if not terribly awful (there’s misunderstanding of why some people reject this vaccine; calling them all “anti-vax[x]ers” is counter-productive and over-simplistic)

Get the injection... While we prepare the next one
Today’s vaccine hesitancy won’t be effectively confronted by threats, collective shaming/scapegoating, and ‘well-meaning’ misinformation (white lies). We need a better approach.

THIS post is not against vaccination. So get this notion out of your head and actually read the arguments if you’ve already leapt to the wrong conclusion. In my family, everyone is vaccinated; for COVID-19 only half of us are, as half of us have opted for very strict self-isolation, enabled by the type of job we do. More on that in a moment… (also see “Workers Should Never be Forced to Work in an Office (for Jobs That Can be Done Equally Well From Home)”)

I myself am not an immunology expert, but I do read what those people (experts, not mere card-carrying ‘faith’ followers) have to say. They’re not exactly divided, except on more pertinent issues. I have had a lot of time (over a year) to think about this and I try to rely only on reputable sources, i.e. not social control media and any media captured by the industry (or vaccine profiteers who resort to unnecessary exaggerations which can in turn alienate people).

My best friend, a university professor and lecturer in the area of cells (close to COVID-19 territories), regrets getting vaccinated so early because he did not know at the time about side-effects associated with already-inflated (swollen) knees — a chronic issue he has had for decades. A specialist later told him that many others suffer similarly and can now barely walk. They rushed. We’re still studying some of the effects and improve the protocols by which vaccines are administered. The vaccines too are changing and we get a better understanding of how to treat patients if they’re hospitalised with it (for example, overuse of ventilators can create a harmful dependency, so these should only be a last recourse in many cases). It’s all — or mostly — still work in progress and eventually we’ll find a way to live or co-exist with this virus. It’ll never go away completely; we cannot eradicate the flu for example. False dichotomies won’t convince everybody.

I wrote a lot about the subject in this blog and elsewhere and my thoughts on this are personal; I can defend my arguments and I can provide sources. I’m not looking for a fight.

First of all, as I’ve repeatedly said, if you work outdoors, then by all means get vaccinated. Given the known long-term harms of merely contracting the thing (or “long COVID”), it makes sense to never contract the thing at all, irrespective of vaccination.

Almost any vaccine will do (lower efficacy ones are less likely to cause short-term illnesses and side effects). If you are ill to begin with, consult a physician first. They would likely be sincere rather than pushy. Adding one illness to another can be lethal and one might get ‘lost in statistics’ if/when things go wrong (Norway already cautioned against this).

Working from home all the time is a privilege. I realise I’m different. I’m in a unique and fortunate position. I cannot speak as if everyone else is in the same position. So, in other words, my choice or my advice cannot be treated as universal. I recognise, moreover, that there are shared homes (shared with potentially reckless tenants who think it’s all just a “hoax” and act accordingly). So not all “home workers” are safe either; it depends on who they live with.

Suffice to say, not everybody can work from home. It depends on the occupation and the sector (e.g. hospital/nursing, food production, construction etc. cannot be done remotely, except more administrative roles).

Yesterday I read about “Lambda” being trotted out like a sort of “version inflation” — to borrow software terms — which seems almost arbitrary (everything mutates all the time; it’s like code changes in software). Each time they rename the thing they make people feel like today’s vaccines are outdated or some worthless, low-effect “yesterday’s product”. That’s not helping at all! It also leads, potentially I think, to a sort of “buyer’s remorse” among those already vaccinated.

As a matter of priority, the media should quit all the baseless fear-mongering, such as claiming people won’t be able to fly or find employment without getting vaccinated (as a fallback, testing exists). Any time you get caught in a lie you lose credibility, so instead focus on actual facts. I have a friend who felt remorse about getting vaccinated because he felt like he had been misled into it (the flying thing). This friend is an athlete. He needs to travel for competitions.

Suffice to say, there are special cases where imposing vaccines on people would contribute to the worst of narratives (some have gone as far as comparing vaccination to actual death camps). Stop pushing this idea that pregnant women and kids too should be vaccinated. It’s not helping; it alienates yet more people.

So what to do as a matter of universal policy? First of all, keep distance. It’s not antisocial. People can be understanding, especially in these difficult times. By all means, especially outdoors, use a mask to protect those around you (from droplets mostly). Masks aren’t perfectly effective — far from it — and double-masking won’t hurt (not even physically), with one being disposable and another washable to reduce waste. Masks help protect others from oneself. So it’s down to societal solidarity. Wear a mask; don’t be an arsehole. And masks aren’t politics or a symbol of allegiance to some party; don’t politicise sanitation.

In this blog I have long opposed opening up stadiums where people get in contact with hundreds of other people, many of whom asymptomatic carriers. The media should quit blaming or scapegoating those 27 million Brits who aren’t yet vaccinated; there are many children who bring it home from school/kindergarten, but the media is far too sensitive to portray children as a bunch of lepers.

Going back to my own case, my wife and I are in a very unique position. Mostly because we’re not extroverts and we have the luxury of working from home (since ages ago)… and moreover, having chosen not to have children, the ‘vector’ by which COVID-19 can come home is limited to guests (like a person coming to take meter readings) and food items from the outside, which can be washed extensively. For non-food items, a 3-day quarantine period works well enough. We’ve managed to keep clean/safe and we quit going to the gym when we heard about Borisnaro’s not-so-brilliant “freedom day” plan (basically mass infection, which isn’t the same as herd immunity).

We don’t reject COVID-19 vaccines, which are still a dynamic thing; we intend to get vaccinated for this at one point (we’re pro-vaccination but mostly trust the long-established vaccines, e.g. measles and polio, which won’t beget “mild polio” or “mild measles”, just no polio and no measles at all; they also don’t require annual or biannual “boosters”). We even encourage others to have them depending on their circumstances.

Speaking of the science, we already know being vaccinated does not prevent one from becoming a carrier and passing it on, it just significantly improves chances of survival especially among the elderly and other vulnerable groups with already-serious/underlying conditions. Those are just the facts. Those who can benefit a lot from vaccination probably got a couple of jabs (no matter which vaccine) already, at least in richer Western countries. Some got a third.

As I said earlier, the media is currently reinforcing this idea that it’s a never-ending ‘subscription’. All the headlines about boosters, third jabs, “Lambda” etc. are not helping! Change your communication strategy.

I could just as well mention patent monopolies and ‘cartel’ pricing — a subject worth tackling separately so as to not muddy the water by mixing different issues (both legitimate, but economic arguments aren’t the same as safety).

Unlike the media, the NHS has done reasonably OK, I think. It hasn’t pissed me off or insulted me. The tone of the NHS letters we receive is reasonably OK, unlike their high frequency which wrongly assumes repetition alone will change one’s position. (“Are we there yet? Are we there yet? Are we there yet? Are we there yet? Are we there yet? Are we there yet? Are we there yet?”)

At the moment, at least here in the UK, our government is targeting youngsters and children to make the numbers look better and hide the loss of vaccination momentum, which is nevertheless increasingly evident. Offering people shots in Primark seems laughable because the place isn’t sterile and people resistant to the idea of receiving a shot aren’t likely to be swayed just by a change of venue. To make matters worse, they might later associate Primark with several days of fatigue if not illness — hard to see how that’s good for business!

I have no idea who makes the key communication decisions in the UK, but whoever that is, sack him/her/them. They’re not helping. Speak to people and study their beliefs, don’t preach to them from high horses.

In First Ten Days of August 2021 We Have 7-8 Times More COVID-19 Deaths Than the Same Period Last Year

Yo dawg, I herd you opened up everything; Don't worry, only old people like you are dying

I HAVE done the number crunching, based on the NHS data.

Deaths With COVID-19

“Number of deaths of people who had had a positive test result for COVID-19 and died within 28 days of the first positive test. Data from the four nations are not directly comparable as methodologies and inclusion criteria vary.”

2020

10-08-2020	13	
09-08-2020	8	
08-08-2020	14	
07-08-2020	12	
06-08-2020	9	
05-08-2020	6	
04-08-2020	14	
03-08-2020	15	
02-08-2020	10	
01-08-2020	11

Total: 112

2021

10-08-2021	48	
09-08-2021	53	
08-08-2021	70	
07-08-2021	86	
06-08-2021	86	
05-08-2021	91	
04-08-2021	74	
03-08-2021	67	
02-08-2021	75	
01-08-2021  89

Total: 739


Deaths within 28 days of positive test by date reported

2020

10-08-2020	18	
09-08-2020	5	
08-08-2020	3	
07-08-2020	12	
06-08-2020	18	
05-08-2020	14	
04-08-2020	18	
03-08-2020	1	
02-08-2020	5	
01-08-2020	13

Total: 107

2021

10-08-2021	146	
09-08-2021	37	
08-08-2021	39	
07-08-2021	103	
06-08-2021	92	
05-08-2021	86	
04-08-2021	119	
03-08-2021	138	
02-08-2021	24	
01-08-2021	65

Total: 849

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