iSteve commenter FPD72 writes
RVS: “Third, the vaccine trials offer no proof that vaccination reduces the risk of death if administered to old, sick people, because these people are not in the trials.”
I participated in the Pfizer trial. I am 70 years old. I am overweight but not obese (BMI 27.4). I have high blood pressure that is controlled with Lisinopril. I have elevated A1C but am not diabetic although I am taking Metformin.
People who volunteer for vaccine trials probably tend to be more health-literate (such as FPD72) and concerned about the pandemic than average. So the fact that not that many people even in the placebo arms of the initial Phase 3 trials came down with symptomatic cases during the early fall lull in the storm may be due to volunteers being more careful about their health than the average.
Maybe you don’t consider me old or sick (immunocompromised), but most people would.
As I’ve been pointing out for some time, the technical term “comorbidity” confuses people, many of whom assume that it means something like “another cause of death,” when it actually means “the simultaneous presence of two or more diseases or medical conditions in a patient.” Older Americans tend to have several comorbidities, such as high blood pressure, which can be survived for a long time.
So, a lot of people in some danger from COVID due to age and comorbidities are not exactly on death’s door sans COVID.
Granted, Biden medical ethics advisor Ezekiel Emanuel argued in a 2014 article for the Atlantic “Why I Hope to Die at 75:” that you aren’t likely to contribute a major novel idea to human thought after age 75:
It is true, people can continue to be productive past 75—to write and publish, to draw, carve, and sculpt, to compose. But there is no getting around the data. By definition, few of us can be exceptions. Moreover, we need to ask how much of what “Old Thinkers,” as Harvey C. Lehman called them in his 1953 Age and Achievement, produce is novel rather than reiterative and repetitive of previous ideas. The age-creativity curve—especially the decline—endures across cultures and throughout history, suggesting some deep underlying biological determinism probably related to brain plasticity.
On the other hand, not all that many of us contribute a major novel idea to human thought before age 75 either (a vast group to which history may someday adjudge Ezekiel Emanuel to have belonged, if it remembers him at all), but that doesn’t mean our lives aren’t worth living.
Your grandchildren, for example, might wish to know you better before they lose you.
I received the vaccine. I suspected as much from the effects of the second injection (101.3 fever for four days, chills and joint aches for two days) and confirmed it with an antibodies test at an independent lab.
A certain percentage of trial volunteers in the vaccine arm experienced good evidence that they got the real thing rather than the placebo. Conversely, members of the placebo arm would tend to have a clue from their lack of vaccine side effect symptoms that they maybe got the placebo. Since volunteers tend to be pretty intelligent about health matters, it’s likely that people in the placebo arm subsequently tend to behave more carefully on average than those in the vaccine arm, which would somewhat diminish artificially the reported efficacy. So the actual efficacy might be a little higher than even the highly successful trials suggest.
Am I immune? Who knows? But I am now living life again; church, shopping, indoor gun range, babysitting grandkids, etc.
Older Americans tend to have a fair amount of money to spend on their wants, but less urgent wants. They’d like to go to the shoe store and try on new shoes, but not as much as they did when they were 25. The risk to their health, the hassle of wearing masks, and so forth, makes the prospect of spending money less fun-sounding than it did in 2019, so, all-in-all, why do it?
Hence, the economy likely won’t fully revive until older Americans feel confident that going out and spending money isn’t much of a threat to their health. Vaccines are the most obvious way to get back to the good old days.