In the last week of July, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a series of new recommendations for people who have been fully vaccinated due to “new evidence” about infections of all variants of COVID-19 and the rare cases of fully vaccinated people becoming infected.
The announcement resulted in hysteria in many media outlets and the reimposition of restrictions such as mandatory mask use in some states; not to mention the global debate about the possible implementation of measures such as passports for the vaccinated or even some circumventing new mass lockdowns as a “last resort.”
According to CDC data, about 164,500,000 people have been fully vaccinated in the United States (as of July 31, 2021). This represents 49.47% of a population of more than 332,500,000 according to the US Census Bureau.
New recommendations for fully vaccinated persons include the use of masks in closed public settings and “in areas of substantial or high transmission.” In addition, CDC recommends universal mask use for all teachers, staff, students, and visitors to schools, regardless of whether they are vaccinated.
Despite the new recommendations, the same organization maintains that “people who have been fully vaccinated can resume their pre-pandemic activities” and that “if they contract COVID-19 after vaccination, their symptoms may be less severe.”
The “new evidence” supporting the suggestion shows that, in very rare cases, fully vaccinated people can re-infect the virus (especially the Delta variant because it is more contagious), and in very rare cases they can be hospitalized or even die from the disease. This has been enough to generate headlines.
Even so, increasing evidence indicates that vaccines are reliable, safe and effective against all variants of the virus.
How likely are you to become infected after full vaccination?
The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines have been shown to be 95% effective in preventing infection and more than 99.9% effective in preventing hospitalization. This means that, after receiving both doses, it is very difficult to become infected and almost impossible to die.
According to CDC data, nearly 125,000 fully vaccinated people have tested positive for COVID-19. Of those, 6,239 have been hospitalized and 1,263 have died. A huge majority, about 75%, were patients over the age of 65, and many of those who died had some comorbidity or health predisposition.
This means that out of every 1,000 people infected after vaccination, only 4 (0.004 %) have been hospitalized, and out of every 10,000 people vaccinated, only 7 (0.0007 %) could die from complications related to the virus.
The chance of becoming infected with COVID-19 after full vaccination is minuscule. It is so small that it is literally 200 times more likely to die from smoking cigarettes in the United States (according to CDC data).
Not only that. An American is 17 times more likely to die from passive or indirect tobacco use than to die from COVID-19 after receiving both doses of the vaccine.
Similarly, and according to data available from the same source, it is 2,000 times more likely to be bitten by a dog in the United States and 343 times more likely to need medical attention from one of those bites.
An American is even 40 times more likely to die from alcohol consumption, 16 times more likely to die in a traffic accident and twice as likely to die from drowning at sea.
The ratio is so minimal that it is up to 4 times more likely to be bitten by a venomous snake in the United States than to die from coronavirus after full vaccination.
With those numbers, we might assume that the CDC promotes care to avoid those very rare cases of infection. A suggestion similar to not sticking your hand in a hornet’s nest or washing your hands before handling food. But that doesn’t seem to be the perception of some.
Media hysteria and absurd but possible restrictions
After the new CDC recommendations, some states and cities (Nevada and Kansas City, Missouri) began to reimpose mandatory masks in closed places, while California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, New Mexico, New York and Washington maintain the measure in closed or “high risk” places.
The governors of Arizona, Pennsylvania and South Carolina resisted reimposing the restriction. Meanwhile, in Florida, the mayor of Miami-Dade County imposed mandatory facemasks in public facilities, but Governor Ron DeSantis went even further and signed an executive order that voids any fines for non-compliance with local mandates from mayors’ offices or businesses.
On the other hand, President Joe Biden announced on Thursday that he would force all government workers to prove that they are vaccinated if they do not want to be tested regularly, and he did not rule out the possibility of imposing a nationwide vaccination mandate in the future.
Meanwhile, the mainstream media have been unable to avoid the urge to exploit the CDC’s new recommendations in a maelstrom of fear-mongering and terror.
CNBC headlined, “Breakthrough Covid cases: At least 125,000 fully vaccinated Americans have tested positive,” taking the spotlight off the effectiveness of the vaccines, which have been a resounding success according to the New England Journal of Medicine.
The Atlantic asked in a headline “not to be surprised when vaccinated people get infected”, as if it were absolutely common and to be expected that vaccines do not work.
CNN headlined, “Vaccination is not enough by itself to stop the spread of variants.” Others refer to the situation as “alarming.”
Other titles warn of increases in cases and neglect to mention that it only occurs among the population that has not been fully vaccinated.
The New York Post put it on its front page on Friday, “Why the panic?”
Of course, later, in the text content, they make more realistic statements or try to calm the tempers they themselves heated up. However, making a headline that seeks to put all the attention on the tiny number of infected people who have already been fully vaccinated is not only petty, but also offers people the opposite of what they need to know: the vaccine is highly effective, even against the different variants of COVID-19.
At this point in the pandemic, when the data indicate such effectiveness of the vaccines, which are also available to those who choose to take them and half the population has already done so, any restrictive measure is absurd.
This becomes especially relevant when it is indicated that the number of hospitalizations has been reduced by 62.1% since January thanks to vaccination, and that in the same period the overall infection rate has dropped by more than 70%.
Forcing vaccinated Americans to wear masks is almost like closing national parks to prevent poisonous snake bites, or banning cars because of the propensity to get into a traffic accident, or fencing off beaches to prevent drowning.
In any other circumstance, such a ban would be considered an abuse of power.