Why we may not reach Herd Immunity: Vaccine Misinformation

The COVID-19 pandemic could last longer and cost many more lives because of vaccine misinformation.

Frighteningly, many experts think the United States will never reach herd immunity. To explain, herd immunity occurs when the coronavirus cannot spread because a high percentage of the population is immune to it. The Mayo Clinic estimates that 70% of the US population will have to be immune for America to achieve herd immunity.

Many experts think that the United States will not achieve herd immunity because large numbers of people will not get vaccinated, The Guardian reports. The Kaiser Family Foundation estimates around 28% of the population is vaccine hesitant and opposed to the vaccine.

In detail, Kaiser estimates around 15% of the population will not get the vaccine and another 13% is hesitant. However, most of the hesitant people say they will get the vaccine if required.

Importantly, 64% of the population tell Kaiser they will definitely get the vaccine. Hence, 77% of the population; more than enough for herd immunity, could get the vaccine. Thus, I think America can reach herd immunity with effective vaccines.

Vaccine Deniers are not the Problem the Media is

Therefore, I think vaccine resistors will not stop the United States from achieving herd immunity if Kaiser’s poll is accurate. Instead, I think the real threat is another class of misinformation.

Frighteningly the misinformation that threatens herd immunity is being spread by the big media and public health officials, not anti-vaxxers. I think this misinformation takes the form of a big lie spread by the media and some public health officials.

The big lie is all COVID-19 vaccines are created equal. The data, however, shows this claim is false.

A classic example of the big lie is this statement I found in an 18 March 2021 CNBC article: “J&J’s vaccine is a highly effective shot, especially against severe illness and death, but it’s perceived by some Americans as inferior to Pfizer’s and Moderna’s.”

Disgustingly, a quick Google search shows CNBC’s claim is false. The J&J vaccine is not a highly effective shot, and ordinary people’s belief that the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines are superior to the J&J shot is correct.

All Vaccines are not Created Equal

For example, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates the Johnson & Johnson/Janssen vaccine is 66.3% effective.

Consequently, 33.7% of the people who get the JNJ vaccine could catch Coronavirus. Some of those people between 1% and 2.7%; depending on which COVID-19 death rate estimate you believe will die. In addition, others will face hospitalization or long-term disability because of COVID-19.

In contrast, the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is 96.7% effective at preventing COVID-19 deaths, 95.3% effective in preventing infection, and 95.7% in protecting against serious coronavirus cases, a study by Israel’s Health Ministry Shows.

Similarly, a CDC survey of US hospitals found that both the Pfizer-BioNTech and Modern vaccines were 94% effective in preventing in COVID-19 hospitalization. CDC clinical trials found the Moderna vaccine was 94.1% effective at preventing laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 illness in people who received two doses who had no evidence of being previously infected.

Thus widely available data shows the claim all vaccines are equal is false. Worse, the data shows many people will die, face hospitalization, or become disabled because they choose the wrong vaccine.

Fauci Lies about the Vaccines

“The road to hell is paved with good intentions.” – Unknown author.

White House Chief Medical Advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci made a more ambiguous, but equally dangerous claim, on MSNBC on 6 March 2021. “So we’re not saying one is better or worse than the other, we’re saying all three of them are really quite good,” Fauci said of the vaccines.

Fauci is claiming the three vaccines available in the US are equal – which is not true. Either Fauci was lying; or he has not seen the data about the vaccines, which seems improbable. Fauci’s day job is director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAD).

So I imagine Fauci understands some vaccines are better but lies about it. Hence, the media and others who lionize Fauci as a public health authority are not listening to what the man says. Nor are the journalists who glorify Dr. Fauci engage in basic fact checking which shows their hero lies about the vaccines.

I do not think Fauci is evil. Instead, I think his intentions are good. Unfortunately, the good intentions do not justify the potentially deadly misinformation the good doctor spreads.

The Danger from the Johnson & Johnson Vaccine

Thus, I think the real danger from the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is enabling the spread of coronavirus.

Frighteningly, data from the Seychelles Islands, which claims to be ”the world’s most vaccinated nation” shows herd immunity is impossible with weaker vaccines. The Seychelles vaccinated most of its people with the AstraZeneca and SinoVac vaccines.

The SinoVac vaccine is only 78% effective and the AstraZenca vaccine is only 79% effective. Now The Washington Post reports the Seychelles are experiencing an “unprecedented spike in coronavirus cases.” The cause of the spike is less effective vaccines.

Disturbingly, the vaccines they use in the Seychelles are more effective than the JNJ vaccine, yet there was still a spike. Hence, I think the USA could see a big spike in coronavirus infections, deaths, and hospitalizations if many Americans receive the JNJ vaccination.

Notably, Rand Corporation epidemiologist Jennifer Huang Bouey estimates under 49% of the Seychelles’ population is immune to COVID-19 despite a 60% vaccination rate. One reason for the spike was the return of the tourists to the islands who spread coronavirus to vaccinated hotel workers who falsely assumed they had immunity.

Thus, I think widespread use of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine could lead to disaster in the United States because there could be millions of people with no immunity who think they are immune. Those people could go back to work, stop social distancing, and spread the disease.

To elaborate, if 100 million Americans get the J&J vaccine, we could have 33 million people who think they are immune to COVID-19 when they are not walking around. The data from the Seychelles shows that could be a recipe for an enormous COVID-19 spike and many needless deaths.

Inferior vaccines for the Poor and People of Color

Worst of all disproportionate numbers of those people who falsely assume they have immunity could be the poor and people of color. Disgustingly, there is a cynical campaign to force the JNJ vaccine on the poor, the working-class, rural residents, and people of color in the United States.

The thinking is that the J&J vaccine will be easier to give to the poor because healthcare providers can store it at lower temperatures. Additionally, the J&J requires one shot, the Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech need two doses to provide full immunity.

Surprisingly, public health officials became shocked when some black people question the J&J shots. Those people rightly called the J&J shot inferior and noted a hint of racism in efforts to distribute it in African American neighborhoods. To see why blacks think this way Google the words “Tuskegee Experiment.”

It is easy to see why these vaccination efforts offend many black people. The public health officials are insinuating black people are too stupid to come back for a second shot.

Why Public Health Officials promote the J&J Vaccine

One bothersome reason public health officials are excited about the J&J shot is that is cheaper to distribute. To explain, you can store the J&J vaccine in a regular refrigerator, while the Moderna & Pfizer-BioNTech products require an expensive super cold deep freeze.

The short-term savings could cost taxpayers heavily in the future. Remember, many people of color, the poor, and the working class do not have health insurance. That means taxpayers will pay the bill if they get hospitalized with COVID-19.

Similarly, many of those people lack the economic resources to survive if they can longer work. Hence, they will end up on food stamps and Social Security disability if long-term COVID-19 disables them.

Yet the US government has a deal with Johnson & Johnson to buy 100 million doses by the end of June. I have to wonder if somebody in the administration is trying to defend spending tax dollars on an inferior vaccine?

Bad Public Health Advice

The dumbest vaccine suggestion is the White House advice which tells people to get the first vaccine they offer you regardless of effectiveness. Hence, the White House and public health officials could set the stage for a Seychelles style catastrophe here in America.

Many people could die or become seriously ill because they were told to take a less effective vaccine. I have to wonder if we will finally hold Fauci and his ilk accountable if our hospitals get overwhelmed by another wave of COVID-19 cases because of the JNJ vaccine.

A potential threat here is that the poor and people of color are more apt to hold service industry jobs that can spread the virus. For example, supermarket workers, restaurant workers, food service workers, nurses’ aides, and nursing home workers.

There is some good new. The public is not falling for Biden and Fauci’s line of bullshit. A 26 April 2021 ABC News/Washington Post poll found 73% of Americans not yet vaccinated said they were unwilling to accept a J&J shot.

In addition, some local leaders, mostly blacks, are pushing back against the J&J distribution.

Vaccine Denial will get worse because of the J&J vaccine

Finally, headlines about events such as the Seychelles spike will drive vaccine denial. Deniers can say “see here’s proof the vaccines do not work.”

Worse, the Johnson & Johnson vaccine could give anti-vaxxers anecdotal evidence to back up their claims. For example, “Uncle Joe got the vaccine, and he still died of the COVID. So it offers no protection.” The anti-vaxxers will ignore the possibility that Uncle Joe could still be alive if he received the Moderna or Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.

Thus, our government’s doubling down on the Johnson & Johnson vaccine could drive denial. Cynics of course will wonder if the promotion of the substandard is an effort to protect J&J’s stock price.

Finally, the proper way to end the pandemic is to waive the intellectual property rights that protect the mRNA vaccine technology Pfizer, BioNTech, and Moderna used to create their vaccines. That could allow companies; in countries such as India, to mass produce mRNA vaccines to control the spread of coronvirus.

Thankfully, President Joe Biden (D-Delaware) backs waiving the vaccine intellectual property rights. Unfortunately, Biden faces stiff opposition from the European Union, the British government, and major drug companies such as Pfizer (PFE).

Thus there is hope we will reach herd immunity. Unfortunately, the only way to achieve herd immunity could be to ignore our public health experts, our leaders, and the media.