Discover more from Vinay Prasad's Observations and Thoughts
When are scientists allowed to lie?
Ashish Jha makes unsupported claims about the fall booster in an NPR story
The new fall booster received full FDA approval this week (no longer just EUA). There are no data that it provides a net benefit to anyone, and this may be especially doubted for young, healthy people, and those who had COVID. Very likely there is net harm to some of these groups, as there was for prior boosters.
Both the UK and Australia are not moving forward with vaccination programs <65, and yet the US is trying to boost 8 month old babies and 25 year old men— even those— who could have had 3 prior doses and 2 prior bouts of COVID.
Today, on NPRs All Things Considered, former COVID czar Ashish Jha has this to say about why young people should get the COVID shot. Let’s fact check his claims
The vaccine will reduce your chance of missing school or work
It reduces how much you will transmit
The best way to move on is to get the shot, which provides a good amount of protection
Here is the truth:
For every 1000 young people who take the shot, some will miss school or work for a day or so b/c of the shots side effects. These days will add up. Ashish Jha has no evidence that these days of work lost will be offset by days gained from avoiding illness because he has
no evidence that illness will be avoided, at all, and at best, only in a subgroup of the 1000
no way to quantify this
Ultimately, Ashish’s statement is at best unproven, but probably completely false b/c the days of work missed from vaccine adverse events in young ages will likely far exceed days later gained from theoretical, but unsubstantiated vaccine efficacy.
Now claim #2
Ashish Jha has no data that the fall booster will slow transmission. He did not have it for the bivalent booster last year, or even the original booster. This is totally unproven.
Worse, it is a naive. In a country of 300+ million people, likely ~7% will get the booster, whose effect will be transient at best (if we extrapolate from prior doses).
This dampening on transmission is like going to the beach, removing a cup of sand, and saying it is less sandy. Sure, but what’s the point?
Now claim #3
He has no evidence it provides a good amount of protection. He has not quantified its impact. This is false.
Someone could say the same things about taking ivermectin this fall as the fall booster, and yet NPR would condemn the former, but instead they permit the latter. It is bizarre. The standard for truth and misinformation must be consistent. It is concerning when news outlets permit political scientists to lie to promote a dubious vaccination campaign that is not followed by peer nations.