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covid media paranoia

How Many Lives Will COVID Media Paranoia Take?

The media has sold a crisis that does not exist for a few clicks and a few Twitter followers. How many vaccine-hesitant people will die because of this?

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The latest and worst variant of COVID-19 is not the Delta, Lambda, or the near sci-fi “Doomsday” variant, but COVID media paranoia and misinformation.

In the past few weeks, COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations all around the U.S. have been on the rise. The 7-day-average of cases in the U.S. surpassed 100,000 and the 7-day-average of hospital admissions is over 7,000 for the first time since February. However, the CDC only reported 2,976 deaths in the last 7 days, which is less than one person per 100,000 inhabitants. To put it in perspective, the CDC reported over five deaths per 100,000 inhabitants in February.

What has changed since then? That half of the U.S. population is vaccinated. Most cases, hospital admissions, and deaths come from unvaccinated people. As of July 26th, only 7,527 vaccinated people among 163 million have been hospitalized, a grand total of 0.01%, and of those, 1,507 have died (I’ll let you do the math on that one).

So, vaccines are working as expected, even if in the face of the quickly transmissible Delta variant: secondary effects and breakthrough cases are extremely rare, but there’s a slight chance of getting COVID-19, albeit asymptomatically or with just some mild symptoms.

And this should be a reason for hope and should lead the media and the government to paint a brighter future if the vaccination campaign continues to succeed. Yet, as things go with the irresponsible media elite in the U.S., that’s not the case.

If you’re an avid reader of liberal media and follow closely White House and CDC statements, you might think the situation is quite different.

COVID Media paranoia

Infamously, Newsweek published an alarmist article called “A Doomsday COVID Variant Worse Than Delta and Lambda May Be Coming, Scientists Say” with an incredibly bleak (and ugly, to be honest) front image.

And, of course, the article is complete nonsense. If you want to torture yourself reading it, be my guest, but after sounding the alarms about a potential “Doomsday Variant,” the article pretty much says that it is lying to you for clicks: 

“Is there a Doomsday variant out there that shrugs off vaccines, spreads like wildfire and leaves more of its victims much sicker than anything we’ve yet seen? The odds are not high that we will see such a triple threat, but experts can’t rule it out.”

“All told, the chances that a virus in the population will produce a much more dangerous variant in the course of a year would normally be extremely low.”

But it is not just Newsweek. The New York Times tweeted on July 30 that “The Delta variant is as contagious as chickenpox and may be spread by vaccinated people as easily as the unvaccinated, an internal C.D.C. report said.” The Washington Post also posted an article called “CDC study shows three-fourths of people infected in Massachusetts COVID-19 outbreak were vaccinated.” Only after criticism from the White House and dozens of people on social media, the outlets decided to add more context.

And if that wasn’t enough, the CDC and the White House have also played the paranoia game. Even as they have expressed frustration at media coverage, Dr. Leana Wen, CNN’s medical analyst, said that the CDC is missing the big picture. And it shows. CDC chief Rochelle Walensky joined in the fearmongering and said COVID is just a few mutations away from evading vaccines and also added that they don’t prevent transmission the very same day the CDC published a study showing that unvaccinated people are more than twice as likely as getting COVID-19 a second time than vaccinated people. 

As if that wasn’t enough, Biden told unvaccinated people that they’re not smart—Classic political marketing: insulting people to get them to join your cause. 

A couple of days later, Karine Jean-Pierre, a White House spokeswoman, did not rule out new lockdowns in a press conference only to walk back a few hours later.

Even more shameless is the campaign against Florida Governor Ron DeSantis. All along with the pandemic, Florida has been near the average of infections, hospitalization, and deaths in the U.S. Yet, the liberal media has tried to paint him as the prime example of how not to deal with the pandemic through sheer paranoia peddling. Florida has reported a 7-day-average of 88 deaths, which is about 0.3 deaths per 100,000 inhabitants. Meanwhile, almost 60% of people over 18 years old in Florida are fully vaccinated, right within the U.S. average.

Some of these situations are mishaps—a hesitation in a press conference or a bad answer in an interview. Others are way more elaborate, as the bullying campaign from the White House against unvaccinated people, the fearsome headlines corporate media outlets have published to gain a few clicks, and the fabricated campaign against Governor DeSantis. 

Yes, to be sure, if we go and read the full article, watch the complete press conference, we will see the whole context. Many of these outlets then back-tracked and republished headlines with more context, and some have started to cover the Delta variant more responsibly. 

Yet, the first impression is usually the only impression. How many vaccine-hesitant people might be even more hesitant to get vaccinated after such irresponsible coverage and such terrible communication from the White House and the CDC? It’s hard to tell. But get into the head of a vaccine-hesitant person for a second. Maybe it’s the fact that vaccines are just FDA-approved for emergency use, or potential secondary effects, or doubts about the vaccine’s effectiveness; perhaps this person is a young, healthy person who thinks he doesn’t need the shot. Or maybe he knows someone that was one of those rare cases of Guillain-Barre due to the vaccine. 

Maybe, he was thinking of getting the shot. After all, we want to go back to normalcy. Then, he reads these alarmist headlines that imply that vaccines don’t work, that even if you get the shot, you will need to use a mask, and we might go back to locking down again. If he can still end up hospitalized whether he is vaccinated or not, why bother?

And, instead of trying to convince him, he sees the government calls him stupid and tries to force vaccine passports in the main cities of the U.S. Will that person get vaccinated? Hardly so. And this will likely mean the U.S. will find a hard time reaching the 80% vaccination rate goal in the foreseeable future and will lead to more deaths amongst the unvaccinated—who will likely remain so.

When the pandemic started, the media and entertainment elite tried to paint the situation as if we were all in this together: If everyone does their part, we will return to our normal lives sooner rather than later. Yet, it seems some are more together than others. The media has sold a crisis that does not exist for a few clicks and a few Twitter followers. How many vaccine-hesitant people will die because of this?

Vaccines work and are the best way to return to normalcy. From the start, that should’ve been the message, yet it rarely was. The biggest COVID issue right now in the U.S. is not the Delta variant but the media-fed paranoia that tries to fabricate a crisis that does not exist.

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