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More Damning Vaccine Efficacy Data November 6, 2021

Posted by geoff in News.

[I am not a physician or involved in any way in the medical profession. Any comments I make are solely on the basis of the article I’m discussing, and should not be construed as medical advice or counseling. While I make disparaging marks about COVID-19 vaccines based on the article’s data, my family and I are fully vaccinated (though now I’m wondering why).]

Instapundit.linked to a new study of almost 800K VA patients, whose data was used to assess the efficacy of the CoV-2 vaccines. While the results differ from the articles that were discussed in previous posts, they do show quite clearly that the vaccines suck at preventing Delta variant infections, and that they don’t offer much benefit. I should mention that the authors claim that their analysis supports how important vaccinations are. I’m not seeing it.

Let’s go to the charts:

I’m not clear on the precise definition of “Hazard Ratio,” but I take it to be the relative likelihood that you’re going to test positive for SARS-CoV-2 RNA. Relative to what? I dunno. I’m also confused about the x-axis, which should be numbers (like “2 months after full vaccination”) not months (what does “May months after full vaccination” mean?).

In any case you can see that Moderna loses a third of its protection, Pfizer loses half, and Janssen (J&J) is pretty much spent.

This next chart shows the cumulative likelihood that you’ll be infected. You can see the steep decline in starting in late July as the Delta variant becomes prevalent:

These curves make it seem like the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines are really helping reduce the chance of infection. But if you look at it another way, once the Delta variant hit, the difference between being unvaccinated and fully vaccinated with the Moderna vaccine is . . . two and a half weeks.

Yup – vaccinated folk just wait 2.5 weeks and the odds of being infected are the same as those who weren’t vaccinated at all. For Pfizer you just wait 2 weeks, and for J&J it’s about a week and a half.

So let’s talk about death. the charts below compare the likelihood of survival of people under 65 (left chart) with those at or above 65. First, a note about the curves. Most people are in the high risk period of the illness from 1 – 4 weeks after infection. After that period has passed, the slopes of the curves should be the same (i.e., they all go downhill at the same rate).

If they don’t go downhill at the same rate, either there are lingering effects from the infection, there are confounding factors, or the data and/or data analysis are wonky. Looking at the left-hand, under 65, chart, it looks like the slopes are pretty much the same after 10 weeks. On the right-hand chart, however, the slopes of the unvaccinated and vaccinated are quite different. I suspect this is due to comorbidities, which may have been more prevalent in the unvaccinated group. Comorbidity charts can be found in the paper.

But here’s the message from the charts: If you are less than 65, have no comorbidities and you get COVID-19, the difference in the probability of surviving is 1%. So if you have concerns or medical conditions that make you hesitate to get vaccinated, you’re not missing much. In the higher-risk group (65+), you’re about 7% 21% (Update: I read the number wrong, so you’re 21% more likely to survive with a vaccination) more likely to survive if you get vaccinated.

A second point is that there doesn’t seem to be any spike related to the Delta variant in the later months, which suggests that it’s not very lethal.

A Caution About the Data. Or at least my interpretation of the data. Here are my concerns:

  • The study starts in February, but the general population wasn’t allowed to get the vaccine until April. So almost all of the vaccinated data for the first two months involved people who were 65+.
  • The fact that the vaccines looked worse as more people got vaccinated is not comforting.
  • This study ran for 7 months, so the data on deaths, which spans 6 months, is biased toward the shorter times. That is, if you track someone who received a positive PCR test in the first two months, you’re fine. But if they tested positive at the end of month 4, you can only track them for 3 months. That bunches up the data towards the left-hand of the chart. Combine that with the smaller number of vaccinations in the early months, and the right hand side of the vaccinated curves on the death charts is very lightly weighted.
  • As mentioned above, the study seems to conflate calendar months with months from or to an event (like positive PCR result). It’s like they assumed that everybody who was vaccinated was fully vaccinated at the beginning of the study (Feb 1).


1. Jimbro - November 6, 2021

One thing is clear, speaking as a physician, the whole thing is a morass

thecovidpilot - November 7, 2021

…the whole thing is a morass if you think that the game is science. Science isn’t about spreading fear and confusion, like we saw early 2020.

Effective repurposed antivirals were smeared by the CDC, FDA, pharma, social media, and legacy media, who must have conspired in this corrupt racketeering.

If you want to know the game being played, ask, “Qui bono?”

2. Mark in nj - November 11, 2021

Do you think there could be a problem with the warp speed approach itself? (with no critique of the Trump admin, which seems to have done an admirable job on this).

From what I know, previous vaccine approvals always required very lengthy, high-N studies…maybe for reasons we don’t know yet, some of those factors can’t be safely skipped/shortened?

3. geoff - November 12, 2021

The vaccine development effort was incredible and laudable, but hampered, as you say, by time. It’s only been since Septemberish that it’s become apparent that the vaccines have little efficacy against the Delta variant, and are probably losing their efficacy overall. I know there are emerging drugs that may work better, but we certainly need a second push from government/pharma to come up with better vaccines.

Hopefully vaccines that don’t require 3 shots in 6 months.

I liken the vaccine development to the typical Star Trek episode, where the crew is infected by some rampaging alien virus and McCoy has until the end of the episode to save them. Sure, he’d like to have 7 years and a billion star-dollars to develop a cure, but he’s got 44 minutes, so he does what he can.

This was one of the few (if not only) times that the FDA acted like McCoy and tried to save people on a timeline. In their normal MO, they act like they and pharma have infinite resources (time, people, money) to do drug development. So people are left to suffer.

Longer, high-N studies are great, but there has to be a faster path to drug delivery. Some compromise between comfortable bureaucrats reading reports/attending conferences at plush resorts and the crazy fast approval of the COVID vaccines.

4. lumps - November 17, 2021

We are hoping for more information to come out about long-term effects over time, but it likely won’t happen because a) Moderna and Pfizer destroyed their control groups, and b) it’s too political; in certain states you can’t even report an actual adverse effect without people trying to silence you or straight up ignore you.

5. geoff - November 17, 2021

I misread a number on a graph and mistakenly claimed that for the 65+ crowd, the odds of survival increased by only 7% if you were vaccinated. They actually increase by 21%.

Sorry about that.

6. lumps - December 19, 2021
7. lumps - December 19, 2021
8. dolphinwrite - January 6, 2022

If we see the states with the highest vaccinated populations have the most covid cases, indicating the vaccine might be causing, in some fashion, more covid cases, why would we get the vaccine? And, we keep hearing, reported, that vaccinated people still get covid. Which might explain the spread.

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