Look around you
The Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung (FAS) is the Sunday spin-off of the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ), one of Germany’s biggest and most prestigious newspapers. Alas, they all suffer from Long Covid. On the day that was supposed to be Germany’s Freedom Day (March 20, 2022), Wibke Becker and Joachim Müller-Jung wrote in the editorial:
Wer dreifach geimpft ist, ist schwerer anzustecken, und er steckt auch deutlich seltener andere an. […] Die dritte Dosis halbiert die Zahl der Infizierten, die Symptome entwickeln oder ins Krankenhaus müssen. Und sie eliminiert fast vollständig das Risiko, an Covid-19 zu sterben. […] Konsequentes Impfen erhöht die Chance, die Immunflucht-Varianten in Schach zu halten. Impflücken wie in Deutschland, wo nur 58 Prozent geboostert sind, können dann Geimpfte wie Ungeimpfte teuer zu stehen kommen.
The triple-jabbed are harder to infect, and they infect others at considerably lower rate. […] The third jab cuts by half the numbers of infected, of those with symptoms, and of those requiring hospital care. And it eliminates almost completely the risk of dying from Covid-19. […] Thorough vaccination increases the chances of keeping immune escape variants in check. Vaccination gaps as in Germany, where only 58% of the population have received a booster, can harm both the vaccinated and the unvaccinated.
Lucia Schmidt adds to that later on:
Der deutsche Impf- und Boosterstatus ist im Vergleich zu anderen Ländern noch immer erschreckend niedrig, und es fehlt am Willen vieler, das zu ändern.
Vaccination and booster rates in Germany are still alarmingly low, and many are unwilling to change that.
Two propositions are being put forth:
Vaccination and booster rates in Germany are comparably low.
Vaccination and booster are a blessing, and unwillingness to embrace these blessings is harming us all.
This should be visible in the numbers, shouldn’t it?
Germany has nine neighbours. Here are the current (2-dose) vaccination and booster rates per 100,000 for these and for Germany, together with the respective ranks:
Germany ranks 4th for vaccinations, and 3rd for boosters. Next proposition, please. Shouldn’t the benefits of vaccination and boosters be visible in the data? Let’s choose July 1st, 2021, the beginning of the second half of 2021, as the cut-off point between the pre-vaccination and the post-vaccination regime. The following table shows the rates per 100,000 for infections and deaths for both periods, together with the post-vaccination ranks:
Germany ranks 9th for post-vaccination era infections, and 7th for deaths. Only Poland has seen less infections per 100,000, and only three countries (Luxembourg, Switzerland, Netherlands) had to register fewer deaths per 100,000.
Not that bad, not at all. But what is the general trend? Here are the (Pearson) correlations between the vaccination (resp. booster) rates and the infection (resp. death) rates for the post-vaccination era:
Vaccination and booster rates are positively correlated with infection rates, and negatively correlated with death rates. The overall picture remains the same, if a little damped, if we switch to rank correlations (i.e., from Pearson’s rho to Spearman’s rho):
If you want to use this as proof that vaccination prevents deaths, you will also have to acknowledge that it promotes infection. But so far we have been ignoring what happened in the pre-vaccination era. Let’s compare the rates by computing quotients:
For example, Germany has seen 18,357 / 4,485 = 4.09 as many infections post-vaccination than pre-vaccination, and only 44 / 109 = 0.4 as many deaths. Again, we translate the quotients into ranks and compute correlations of rates and of ranks for vaccinations (resp. boosters) versus infections (resp. deaths):
Surprise! The negative correlations with regard to deaths are all but gone!
I won’t dare to claim that my little experiment proves that Covid vaccinations do more harm than good, but I will boldly refuse the blatant propaganda printed by the FAS.