Story Stream
recent articles

“COVID Has Killed One of Every 100 Older Americans.” The previous headline made the front page of the New York Times in mid-December of 2021. In the subhead it was noted that as virus-related deaths reached 800,000 in the U.S., “Three quarters Are Age 65 and Older.”

Up front, the statistics prominently reported by the Times aren’t brought up to shrink the meaning of the virus. Real people died, and real people lost loved ones. At the same time, it can at the very least be said that it’s rarely a tragedy when someone over 65 passes in the way it is for a toddler, a teenager, or a young parent. Thank goodness a virus that by many accounts spread faster than the flu largely spared those who could still claim youth, or children. Better yet, as the aforementioned headline made plain, the virus has proved pretty meek when met by old people too.

After which, it’s hopefully not impolitic to state what should be obvious: people older than 65 more often than not are experiencing medical difficulties much greater than those 55, 45, and younger than that. About this, the Times has routinely reported that of those classified as having been killed by the virus, a very high percentage had other highly lethal conditions that they were dealing with. If so, can’t we say that of those Americans felled by COVID, a not insubstantial number of them passed with COVID, as opposed to passing from it?

About these statistics and questions, it cannot be stressed enough that they’re not being bruited as a case against the lockdowns. The lockdowns quite simply never made sense, and the argument for them was paradoxically weakened the more that the experts told us the virus was potentially very crippling to our health. Please think about this. As in please think about if the virus had been killing large numbers of all ages rather indiscriminately. If so, any taking of freedom by nailbiting politicians would have been superfluous. Really, who among us needs to be forced to be cautious in the face of rampant death? The lockdowns on their very best day were always a total and complete non sequitur. Worse, they were anti-health and life.

To see why, consider what free people would have done amid a spreading virus. Some would have completely locked down voluntarily, some a lot, some not much at all, and then the young likely would have continued living life as they had before with the parties and bar-hopping that define youth. If so, great. Those who don’t follow expert opinion are your control group. By not doing as experts say, they teach us through their actions what lifestyle choices are most risky with regard to the virus, what aren’t, and in between. With brevity in mind, free people produce crucial information.So do old people for that matter. Politicians instead chose to blind us to quality information with one-size-fits-all. 

All of this was anti-life given the historical truth that poverty has always been mankind’s most brutal killer, while prosperity that’s produced the resources necessary for cures has been death's greatest foe. Politicians chose economic contraction as a virus-mitigation strategy. Historians will marvel...

Which brings us to the vaccines. Up front, this is NOT a column meant to opine on their effectiveness, or lack thereof. As always, leave the effectiveness debate to the experts.

At the same time, this column aims to make a basic point: the statistics about coronavirus deaths among the vaccinated and unvaccinated arguably obscure far more than they enlighten. About the statistics, presumably most readers are familiar with numbers saying that the unvaccinated are quite a bit more likely to be hospitalized from the virus and die from it than those vaccinated. Right away, readers should be skeptical.

They should because numbers can be misleading. As an example, the Wall Street Journal’s editorial page has opined that if vaccinated, those infected with the virus have 1 percent odds of being hospitalized. Which is quite an endorsement for getting the jab. Except that an article in the same Wall Street Journal reported on July 30, 2020 (from stats accessed at the CDC) that the hospitalization rate for those who’d contracted the virus was 0.1 percent. Which is a reminder that long before the rollout of vaccines, most infected weren’t being hospitalized or dying. As the New York Times kept reporting inside articles that led with alarmist headlines, somewhere north of 40% of virus deaths were related to nursing homes, and well north of 40% of deaths were related to very old people.

Back to the vaccinated versus unvaccinated statistics of the present, it would be great to know who is being hospitalized and dying from the virus sans vaccination, and who isn’t being hospitalized and not dying allegedly thanks to the shot. It’s not a reach to say the populations in no way resemble one another. The bet here is that the vaccinated are more well-to-do, healthier, and given the excitement that so many college educated have with being masked, very young. Is the vaccine saving the vaccinated from hospitalization and death, or were they already safe?

The answer to the above question seems to be that they were already safe. As for the unvaccinated, was the lack of a shot the problem or were they already making all sorts of parallel choices to going without the shot that were similarly unhealthy? These questions rate answering. At the very least we can speculate that we’re not comparing apples to apples with our vaccination statistics. Because if we did, the bet here is that we’d find statistics much less conclusive about the good of the jab, and the bad of non-compliance.

The challenge now is to find out who among the unvaccinated are dying with COVID, and who among those vaccinated are living with COVID. The speculation here is that the populations look nothing alike.




John Tamny is editor of RealClearMarkets, Vice President at FreedomWorks, a senior fellow at the Market Institute, and a senior economic adviser to Applied Finance Advisors (www.appliedfinance.com). His most recent book is When Politicians Panicked: The New Coronavirus, Expert Opinion, and a Tragic Lapse of Reason. 

Show comments Hide Comments