Anti-vaxxers are Paranoid, Illogical, and Unscientific

There is an old saying that goes, "You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him drink." Likewise, there is a variant of that saying that has evolved over the years as, "You can lead a man to knowledge, but you can't make him think." This is especially true within the realms of Social Media, where any number of ill-informed rabble now have a platform to publicly spew complete nonsense, while remaining incapable of being able to see anything beyond their warped points of view. Even when presented with incontrovertible evidence to the contrary, these ideological miscreants cling to their fallacies with a religious fervor that would fill zealots with envy. As I have mentioned in previous blogs, few topics have generated such levels of misplaced devotion as the anti-vaxx crowds, which gained tens of thousands of new converts during the recent COVID19 pandemic as paranoia fueled by conspiracy theories devolved into a quagmire of unscientific, politically-charged drivel. It is usually best to ignore the ridiculous offerings proffered by those who are incapable of understanding simple logic, because nothing you can say will budge them from their comfortable, little echo chambers.


That being said, I occasionally see something so ludicrous that I cannot remain silent, and though I know that my actions will do no good, I cannot resist the temptation to speak up, which brings me to the subject of today's blog. Despite 2½ years of a global pandemic that has resulted in millions of deaths around the planet, there are thousands of paranoid, uneducated saps who deny its existence or distrust the government's motivations where the pandemic is concerned. The following conversation details just one example of this type of mentality at work.

"The unvaccinated aren't dying. Just saying..."
Literally millions of unvaccinated people have died around the globe... though apparently no one you know (but some people I know). That said, far less people died in the USA because we have some of the best medical care in the world. Thankfully, however, global fatality rates have decreased because the Omicron variants - while still easily transmissible - have much lower mortality rates than predecessor variants.
Current numbers indicate that roughly 8% of the world's population has contracted COVID19, and the numbers will probably increase this winter as in the past couple years, and COVID19 will likely become an annual scourge like the normal flu season.
"The normal flu season also results in the death of 10s of thousands every year, except, it seems, when COVID was raging. Interesting how the head shed in dc has never been as rabid about normal flu season deaths as they are about COVID. Apparently, there's no political advantage to being fired up about deaths from flu."
You've apparently missed the point that flu deaths were reduced during the COVID pandemic because millions of people across the globe wore masks, used hand sanitizer, practiced social distancing, quarantined people who were infected, stayed home as much as possible, closed businesses, etc. Personally, I think that some of those measures were an overreaction, but the reason why people were overreacting is that even though the flu typically results in the deaths of tens of thousands of people each year, from the outset of the COVID outbreak it was easy to project that millions were going to die from that disease when it was still at its worst. If we hadn't done anything, the number of COVID deaths would have been far greater - in other words, even though some governments overreacted, their results were nevertheless effective. The number of people infected with COVID were far less than they would have been, and flu cases were reduced as a by-product of the heightened awareness and preventative measures.
To put things in perspective, the average number of annual flu cases in the USA from 2010 to 2020 was around 28 million, versus 97 million cases of COVID in the USA alone since its initial outbreak (and 628 million cases globally). However, the total number of deaths in the USA due to the flu for that same decade of 2010 to 2020 was 347 thousand, versus 1.1 million deaths in the USA due to COVID in two years alone (and 6.7 million deaths globally). In other words, the annual flu season results in an average of 32 thousand deaths per year, which is no small number, but COVID has resulted in an average of 440 thousand deaths per year. Putting that in layman's terms, despite all the preventative and/or over-reactive measures that were enacted, COVID still infected the population with a transmission rate that was several times greater than annual flu seasons, and COVID was considerably more fatal.
But here's another interesting tidbit about diseases - as most people are aware, diseases mutate into new variants, and as a result, they often become less toxic with each new mutation. When you study the pathology for diseases that have rampaged humanity, they are especially heinous when they mutate and initially cross over the barrier from plants or animals to humans, which is when we sometimes see the highest mortality rates. But as some diseases continue to mutate, their lethality decreases as they are transmitted from human to human (though sometimes diseases mutate in the opposite direction and become more pernicious before eventually withering out).
The history of diseases is replete with nasty outbreaks that eventually contain themselves, though to be clear - that sometimes takes decades (e.g. the Black Plague) or centuries (e.g. Yellow Fever), during which millions could perish. However, following the introduction of germ theory for disease in the 18th century and its global acceptance in the 19th century, we now know for the most part how diseases work - and we have spent the past two centuries building up our defenses and chronicling our discoveries, which helps us fight off major pandemics like the one we just encountered. That being said, make no mistake - if COVID had struck 100 years ago, the results would have been far more devastating than the 1918 Spanish Flu Pandemic.
To sum up, there's no conspiracy here - it's simple science: if you take drastic measures to prevent the spread of one disease, you will more than likely prevent the spread of other diseases.
"Regardless, flu deaths were essentially ignored by the political agenda for COVID."
Once again, that's completely untrue. Anyone working in any of the combined fields of science that were fighting COVID knew that anything that was done to prevent the spread of COVID would ALSO prevent the spread of other diseases like the flu, and anyone with a grasp of basic science - to include politicians - understood that simple concept. So the flu wasn't "ignored" during the pandemic - everyone knew that it would be contained better than ever before, which it was.
However, the question that you MIGHT want to ask yourself is, "Why is the flu ignored when there ISN'T a pandemic?" Given the numbers that I shared earlier, the annual flu season resulted in an average of 32 thousand deaths per year in the decade prior to the COVID outbreak, so why isn't anyone paying attention to THOSE deaths? And once again, the answer is simple: they are. The CDC is actively fighting the flu, and does its best to predict the flu variant each year, and millions of flu vaccines are shipped around the country/globe to fight off the flu as a result. Some years the CDC does a better job of predicting the flu variant, and infection rates decrease as a result.
However, according to the CDC, if you REALLY wanted to reduce the numbers of flu cases and/or deaths each year, you could... wash your hands, use hand sanitizer, practice social distancing, quarantine people who are infected, and even - [gasp!] - wear a mask. Of course, many people refused to follow any of those recommendations during the pandemic, so there isn't a snowball's chance in hell that they'll follow any of those guidances for the flu season. That being said, I've carried a mask in my laptop bag for years when traveling, and I've had no problems pulling that out and wearing it when someone seated next to me is horribly ill (and probably shouldn't have been traveling).
In other words, despite your beliefs to the contrary, the flu wasn't ignored during the pandemic. On the contrary, the effects of the flu were greatly marginalized due to the extraordinary measures that were enacted to combat the pandemic. However, even when there isn't a pandemic, the flu is still in the cross-hairs of the people we have who fight diseases.
"From my observation of the political 'used car' salesmen during the COVID panic, it is completely true. Never once heard one of them mention anything in reference to the annual flu season."
There was no need to mention anything in reference to the annual flu season during the COVID pandemic, because - as I just said - everyone knew that the annual flu season would be contained better than ever before because of the extraordinary measures that were enacted to combat COVID. There's no need to mention something that has been totally negated, which - for all intents and purposes - the the flu was.
Flu deaths in the USA for 2020 were so small that the CDC has no real numbers to report, and flu deaths for 2021 were around 5 thousand - which was 85% below the annual national average. However, in that same time frame, COVID deaths were literally 220 times greater (e.g. 5,000 deaths for the flu vs 1.1 million deaths for COVID). So, yeah - you didn't hear about flu deaths during the pandemic because it was essentially a non-entity statistically, but you heard a LOT about COVID deaths because COVID was killing people at numbers that were exponentially higher than the flu. And you didn't hear anything about trying to prevent the flu during the pandemic because - as I have said several times now - everything that was done to prevent COVID was ALSO preventing the flu.
"We will have to agree to disagree."

As I said earlier, this discussion typifies the point that I was trying to make; despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, this anti-vaxxer was incapable of seeing anything beyond his paranoid, unscientific, and illogical perspective.

What a sad indictment of the quality of scientific thought in the 21st century.

Sad smile

UPDATE: This post was edited to fix a small math error that was in the original.

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