No Return To Normal In Sight
The COVID-19 Vaccines Have Failed On Their Signature Promise
Since the beginning of the year the mainstream media and governments around the world have assured us that vaccination against COVID-19 was the key to a “return to normal.” Only through vaccination, we were told, could sufficient numbers of people be rendered immune to the SARS-CoV-2 virus to allow for pre-pandemic society to return.
With vaccination campaigns worldwide well into their tenth and even twelfth month, we can now see that not only were the vaccines oversold as a means to “return to normal”, but that they have been a complete failure at delivering that return.
The Promise: Ending The Pandemic
In reviewing the practical impact of the COVID-19 vaccines, we must begin by recalling how the mainstream media presented the vaccines at the outset.
The New York Times in February heralded the vaccines as the means to “crush” the pandemic:
Vaccines have brought the United States tantalizingly close to crushing the coronavirus within its borders. After months of hiccups, some 1.4 million people are now being vaccinated every day, and many more shots are coming through the pipeline. The Food and Drug Administration is soon expected to authorize a third vaccine — a single-dose shot made by Johnson & Johnson — while Pfizer and Moderna are promising to greatly expand the supply of their shots, to roughly 100 million total doses per month, by early spring.
Economists at Texas A&M University in late April declared the vaccines “100 percent the answer” to the pandemic:
According to economics professors from the Texas A&M University College of Liberal Arts, the rollout of COVID-19 vaccines is the most important step toward healing the United States’ economy and returning it to its pre-pandemic state.
“Vaccines are absolutely, 100 percent the answer to economic challenges imposed by the pandemic,” said economics professor Jonathan Meer said. “The only way to get back to normal life, to have people doing the things they want to do, spending money on the things they want to spend money on, to have businesses being able to hire the way they want and serve people the way they want, is with vaccines.”
Also in late April, the Houston Chronicle assured Texas that aggressive vaccination was “the key” to everything:
“The state is doing better than I would have expected,” Dr. Peter Hotez, dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine, said Tuesday. “It’s not going down as much as I like, but it’s not shooting upwards.”
“The key now is to move aggressively as possible to fully vaccinating the state,” he continued. “I don’t think we’re going to start seeing declines in transmission, really big declines, until we hit at least the 60 percent mark — and maybe even higher, 70 or 80 percent.”
Even as late as last month, TechHQ touted vaccine passports as a means of reopening stalled economies—and vaccine passports by their very existence imply an aggressive vaccination campaign:
The rollout of such lanes would be instrumental to jumpstarting the region’s economies, as well, with the travel sector accounting for a whopping 12.1% of Southeast Asia’s GDP in 2019. Beyond travel, vaccine passports can also positively impact the economy by providing the world with a means of safely holding large-scale domestic events, or in fully reopening industries that largely depend on personal interactions.
COVID-19 vaccines, vaccine mandates, and vaccine passports have been presented consistently in the mainstream media as an essential element of returning to a pre-pandemic “normal.” However, when we scrutinize ten or eleven months’ worth of COVID-19 data on case counts as well as vaccination rate across multiple countries, we immediately see that, not only has there not been a return to a status quo ante, but that there is no plausible reason to presume these measures can ever provide that return.
Ireland: Highly Vaccinated, Highly Infected
Ireland has one of the highest vaccination rates in the world, with over 75% of the population having received vaccination against COVID-19. Yet, as the data shows, it is experiencing a weeks-long rise in the daily case count.
Moreover, adjusting for population size, Ireland’s daily confirmed case count is multiple times worse than both the European Union overall and the United States
While the rate is dramatically lower than at its peak (January 10, 2021), rising new daily confirmed cases is hardly a trend towards the “normal” which has been a staple of mainstream media reporting on the pandemic.
Yet it is not merely that cases are increasing in Ireland. It is that they are increasing even as vaccinations have increased. When the cumulative cases are expressed as a percentage of Ireland’s population, and viewed side by side with the percentage of the population having been inoculated, this trend is made starkly clear:
A case curve bending up is the exact opposite of what a “return to normal” would be, and the exact opposite of what was promised by the mainstream media.
Note also that the upward bend of the case curve comes after the upward bend in the vaccination curves. While such occurrence for a single country proves neither correlation nor causation—and I am not asserting either—the presumed impact of the vaccines was to prevent such an outcome. Regardless of the reasons behind the shift, with high vaccination rates this simply was not supposed to happen.
But it has.
To add insult to injury, Irish media has reported that the county with the highest vaccination rate in Ireland—Waterford—also has the country’s highest infection rate.
Waterford city has one of the Ireland’s highest rates of vaccination against Covid-19, but one of its electoral areas has emerged as the place with the highest rate of Covid-19 infection in the State.
The city’s south electoral area has a 14-day incidence rate of 1,486 cases per 100,000 of the population, three times the national average which stands at 493 infections per 100,000 people.
This is not a “return to normal”. This is not a “crushing of the coronavirus.”
Israel: All In On Pfizer, All In On Infections
Israel shows a similar set of trends. Israel is of particular interest to the United States, as its vaccinations are almost entirely with the Pfizer mRNA formulation, which under the Comrnaty label is currently the only COVID-19 vaccine fully approved by the FDA.
Israel was an early leader in COVID vaccinations after having cut a deal with Pfizer to receive a large number of vaccine doses before many other countries. It also purchased a smaller number of Moderna vaccines, which it began using more widely in July and August when its Pfizer stockpile neared expiration. Israel rolled out its vaccines rapidly to large portions of the population, vaccinating 50 percent of all residents by March, then began an unprecedented rollout of third booster shots in August. As of Sunday, more than 2.8 million people had received a third dose.
Curiously—and disturbingly—Israel experienced its worst infection rates after it began its vaccination campaign (vaccinations began in December of 2020).
Again viewing cases and vaccinations as a percentage of the overall population, we see again that increases in case counts come after increases in vaccination uptake.
If anything, Israel is a testament to the transitory nature of whatever protection the Pfizer vaccine provides, as the initial downward bend of the case curve gives way over time to an upward bend starting in the summer. However, regardless of the how or why of the bending of the case curve, it remains the exact opposite of what the media promised to be the case. It simply was not supposed to happen.
But it has.
Singapore: Zero Tolerance, Zero Ultimate Success
Initially, Singapore pursued a “Zero COVID-19” strategy using lockdown measures and border controls, moving away from them only after vaccination uptake reached certain thresholds.
Until recently, Singapore implemented its “zero-COVID-19” strategy through strict border controls, a mask mandate, social distancing, and contact tracing. It recently began a pivot to a “living with COVID-19” strategy, given the mounting economic costs of its restrictions, and its growing confidence thanks to successful mass vaccination. By September, Singapore had already vaccinated over 80 percent of its population, and aims to increase this to 90 percent in short order.
Unfortunately, its attempt at a “return to normal” did not go as planned, as case counts began rising again.
As with Israel and Ireland, Singapore’s case increases come subsequent to increases in vaccination uptake.
Even if one attributes the rise in cases to easing of lockdown measures, that merely underscores the incapacity of the vaccines to deliver as promised, because the stated premise behind mass vaccination against COVID is that the lockdown measures can be eased. This simply was not supposed to happen.
But it has.
New Zealand: Surrender To The Virus?
In August, New Zealand announced a new nationwide lockdown, after an Auckland man tested positive for the virus.
An unvaccinated 58-year-old man in the country's largest city Auckland tested positive for the virus. The man had traveled to other parts of the country, and had no obvious link to the border, Director General of Health Ashley Bloomfield said Tuesday.
New Zealand will be under the strictest level lockdown level for the next three days starting from 11:59 p.m. Tuesday, local time, Ardern said. Under level four lockdown, everyone must stay home and businesses are closed aside for essential services such as supermarkets and pharmacies.
Perversely, the daily case counts in New Zealand took off after the lockdown was announced.
While New Zealand had been relatively slow to vaccinate prior to the August lockdown, as of this writing fully 76% of the population has been vaccinated against COVID. Alas, that high vaccination rate has failed to bend the case count curve down again.
Neither lockdown nor vaccination has managed to withstand the COVID-19 daily case count.
High Vaccination Rates Have Failed To Prevent Cases
In highly vaccinated country after highly vaccinated country, recent daily case counts are increasing, as Germany (69% vaccinated) demonstrates.
Ireland. Israel. Singapore. New Zealand. Germany. All with recent case spikes. all highly vaccinated.
The Policy Is The Problem
The question is not whether the COVID-19 vaccinations are medically advisable. That question is and should remain strictly between the patient and his or her doctor.
However, vaccination policies are not medical issues, but political and social ones. It is not unreasonable to presume that all countries want effective public health policies. It is certainly reasonable to presume that we all want to be healthy and safe within our communities.
It is a stated fact that the mainstream media has touted mass vaccination as the ultimate answer to the COVID-19 pandemic.
It is an empirical fact that the data shows the mainstream media to be completely wrong. The COVID-19 vaccinations have not returned us to our pre-pandemic “normal.” They have not even come close. There is no indication in the data to suggest they ever will.
Given the data, policies of mass vaccination against COVID are a problem, not a solution.
I will reiterate that this is not a challenge to the medical advisability of vaccination for the individual patient. How each person manages their own health is for them to decide, using the best information available in the moment.
This is an acknowledgement that the world cannot return to the pre-pandemic status quo relying solely or even primarily on mass vaccination against COVID-19. To re-open society, to restart the global economy, a different strategy is needed.
Note On Graphs: The charts comparing cases and vaccinations as a percentage of population were developed using the Open Source coronavirus data set provided by Our World In Data. The graphs with the Our World In Data logo were downloaded directly from that site.