This clip, suspiciously shorn of context, has gone viral on righty Twitter today for the same reason that all content goes viral in political media, because it confirms (or appears to confirm) the audience’s priors.
A huge share of Republicans have believed from the start that the threat from COVID was grossly overblown and therefore all precautions, starting with draconian lockdowns but ultimately extending even to voluntary vaccination and mask-wearing, were gratuitous. Now here’s apparent confirmation from the head of the CDC herself. Only the very, very sick are dying from COVID. It’s all been a scam.
She is actually saying that “the overwhelming number of deaths, over 75 percent,” among the vaccinated “occurred in people who had at least four comorbidities, so these are people who were unwell to begin with.”
She is saying that vaccines work really well:
Three-quarters of all COVID deaths have come among people with four different comorbidities? By that standard, only the sickest of the sickest of the sick are at any risk of dying. There’s nothing to worry about unless you’re old and obese and diabetic and have a heart condition or cancer or something.
But Walensky wasn’t talking about all COVID deaths. She was talking about COVID deaths among the vaccinated. She was referring to this study published by the CDC on Friday, the same day she gave the interview above.
During December 2020–October 2021, a total of 1,228,664 persons [adults] completed primary vaccination … Among these, … 18 per 10,000 acquired COVID-19, including … 1.5 per 10,000 who had a severe COVID-19 outcome, and … 0.3 per 10,000 who had a COVID-19–related death …
All persons with severe COVID-19 outcomes after primary vaccination had at least one of the eight risk factors identified as significant in the model. The frequency of having four or more risk factors increased with disease severity, ranging from 18.8% (386) among persons who had nonsevere outcomes, 56.9% (87) among survivors who had respiratory failure or were admitted to an ICU, to 77.8% (28) among persons who died.
Out of 1.2 million vaccinated people, just 36 died. That’s .003 percent, a phenomenal survival rate. Of those 36, slightly more than three-quarters had four comorbidities. Which is to say, even if you have three comorbidities, getting vaxxed all but guarantees that you won’t die if you’re infected.
Walensky was celebrating how wildly successful the vaccines have been at saving lives. Anti-vaxxers and the influencers who make bank off of pandering to them took the clip, which had been selectively edited to remove that context, and offered it as evidence that vaccination is unnecessary. Until the past year I never would have imagined that a media niche would become politically invested in increasing its own audience’s risk of dying from a miserable disease by lying to them chronically.
Please, be careful of the “news” you believe.
This reminds me of the nonsense popular with the US right wing that Australia was tyrannical over covid. Not so, and in fact for the last two years Australia largely lived a normal (maskless) life while the rest of the world suffered under covid and rolling lockdowns. Some of the US right wing sites seemed to compete to tell the biggest whoppers, though there was some fire in that smoke, mostly about Victoria. Even Tucker Carlson said on four occasions that Australia was under martial law, which was completely untrue.