Europe’s covidiocy

During 2020, Europe put America to shame regarding Covid, as our president willfully refused to treat it seriously, even encouraging flouting precautions, surely responsible for our outsized half million death toll. Now the tables have turned. 

The European Union is botching vaccination, epitomizing all the EU’s weaknesses. It is overly bureaucratized and rule-obsessed, gumming things up. Aggravated by a need to coordinate all 27 member countries, and prioritizing nitpicking about fairness over speed. Worse yet, the EU wasted precious months dickering with vaccine makers on price. Well, they did finally win lower prices than America. But those savings were surely swamped by the vast costs associated with more people hospitalized and dying — preventable by quicker vaccination. It was penny wise and pound foolish.

The Biden administration, in contrast, is acting aggressively to get shots into as many arms as possible, as fast as possible. Realizing this is a race against the virus, especially with new and more dangerous variants proliferating.

We’re undermined by some states prematurely lifting restrictions aimed at curbing the spread, giving us Spring Break crowding sure to cause innumerable infections and deaths. President Biden caught hell for calling that “Neanderthal thinking.” Horrors, a president using strong language! “The former guy” never did. But of course Biden was right. “Neanderthal” was actually mild. It was reckless disregard for human life.

Still, America is way ahead of Europe in vaccination rates and thus in ultimately beating Covid. Thank you, President Biden (and the 81 million with the sense to vote for him).

And meantime, already way behind, Europe has compounded its misfeasance with its AstraZeneca stupidity. It seems that out of five million receiving the AZ shot, 30 reported blood clots. So in what they described as “an abundance of caution,” at least 16 European countries suspended AZ jabs.

The blood clot rate is less than 0.001% of vaccinations. Five million of which surely saved thousands of lives. For that, 30 blood clots would have been a minuscule price to pay. Vaccines always have occasional side effects. But again Europe is being penny wise and pound foolish.

Yet it’s even dumber than that suggests. Because out of any five million people, how many normally get blood clots? The answer, it turns out: more than 30! If anything, the AZ vaccine may somehow prevent blood clots.

How many times must we repeat so elementary a mistake? Confusing correlation with causation. Post hoc ergo propter hoc. Assuming that if one thing follows another, the former caused the latter. When they may be unrelated. Remember the huge ruckus over women getting sick after silicone breast implants? Well, hello, people get sick all the time, for a million reasons. It was finally proven that implanted women’s ailments occurred at a rate no greater than for women generally. 

The Europeans say they’ll research the blood clot issue and then maybe re-authorize AZ use. They say this will help instill public confidence in vaccine safety. Excuse me, on what planet? The bare fact of the suspension needlessly gives credence to irrational fears about all covid vaccines (not to mention all others). If authorities originally authorized AZ, then changed their minds, and then change their minds again, that will hardly promote confidence among millions of people inclined to be skeptical toward both those Eurocrats and vaccines. And what of the legions of people who will suffer and die for lack of vaccination while authorities dither? 

I hate to say this: Brexit, otherwise disastrous, has been fortunate for Britain in at least this one way, removing it from the EU’s covidiocy. Britain’s vaccination rate is far higher. 

2 Responses to “Europe’s covidiocy”

  1. Lee Says:

    Yes, a low blood clot rate is much better than a higher death rate that would arise without vaccination; and if the AstraZeneca vaccine were the only one out there it would be a no-brainer.

    Because there are other vaccines out there however, things are a little more subtle. If we can get alternatives to people with only a little delay then it is the human cost of that delay that must be compared to the blood clot rate. How long is that delay? (I am curious about your data. Is 30 clots per 5 million *in a few weeks time* really the usual rate?) I suspect that it is still in our best interests to use the AstraZeneca vaccine even by this measure, but it’s harder to know because I haven’t seen this discussed rigorously. (Perhaps you have?)

    Then there is the question of *who* gets which vaccine. Medical ethicists worry a lot about second-best solutions because they don’t want to see a situation where the first-best solution goes to more privileged people and the worse solutions go to those who are less privileged. That smacks of all sorts of bad ‘isms.

    One more complication — we are probably going to have to get this vaccine periodically, much like the flu shot. Getting a substandard shot now is worse, but if there will be another shot in the not too distant future then the period of substandardness is much shorter than a lifetime. And that mitigates much of the discussion above.

    So, yes, I suspect that AstraZeneca vaccine should be used now. I would like to see safeguards — perhaps some soft of randomization — to make sure that the brunt of the side effects don’t fall on the least privileged in our world.

  2. Don Bronkema Says:

    Personkind is benthic-brainless to start w/, further handicapt by preference for illusion & zero exposure to formal logic or rules of evidence. If we reach the stars per Alcubierre, it will be ‘par hazard, pas virtu’. We drift sans espoir in a sea of endogenous dimensions & quant pseudality. Messor gravis cometh, all-assuaging.

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