Straining at a gnat while swallowing a camel

Take a look at this graph that disaggregates the rates of covid-19 deaths according to vaccination status.

Note that if you are unvaccinated you have at least a five-fold greater risk of dying. This is a massive difference. And yet, many people choose to ignore information that is effectively smacking them upside the head and telling them to get vaccinated.

Compare this with how people are willing to adopt all manner of practices that promise even small benefits. People start taking things like turmeric, acai berries, pomegranate, and adopt all manner of diets, exercise routines, and things like detoxing even though the promised benefits may be just a few percent reduction in cancer or a slight increase in longevity, and the like. And even those benefits have been shown to not be that robust or are even spurious. This behavior reminds me of something that Jesus said in Matthew 23:24 about people straining at a gnat while swallowing a camel.

But presented with a staggeringly large reduction in death rates that vaccines provide, they act if that were not worth considering, even though the situation seems to once again be turning dire.

President Joe Biden on Thursday warned people who are not vaccinated against Covid-19 are looking at a very bleak and dangerous winter if they do not get their shots soon.

“I want to send a direct message to the American people: Due to the steps we’ve taken Omicron has not yet spread as fast as it would have otherwise done,” Biden said in remarks at the White House following his Covid-19 briefing Thursday.

As of Wednesday, only about 1 in 6 people in the US are fully vaccinated and boosted against Covid-19, leaving hundreds of millions at risk as the threat of the fast-transmitting Omicron variant looms.

The latest ensemble forecasts published Wednesday by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that new Covid-19 hospital admissions may reach record levels in the coming weeks, while new cases and deaths may reach levels last seen during last winter’s surge.

The CDC’s predicted increase in Covid-19 deaths would bring total deaths for the pandemic to 837,000 to 845,000 people by January 8.

An average of nearly 120,000 new cases are being diagnosed each day, according to data from Johns Hopkins University — 50% more than a month ago. And more than 1,200 people are dying every day, on average.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said Thursday on ABC’s “Good Morning America” that he is certain Omicron will become the dominant coronavirus variant in the US relatively soon.

“It has what we call a doubling time of about three days. And if you do the math on that, if you have just a couple of percentage of the isolates being Omicron, very soon it’s going to be the dominant variant,” Fauci said, later adding, “We’ve seen that in South Africa, we’re seeing it in the UK and I’m absolutely certain that’s what we’re going to be seeing here relatively soon.”

Fauci also said this week that at this point, there is no need for a variant-specific booster shot but that there will “no doubt” be breakthrough infections.

There was an article that said that in some European countries, some hitherto vaccine resistant people are changing their minds.

Some former vaccine skeptics in Eastern Europe have shifted over to the other side as coronavirus infections surge, countries are making it more difficult for the unvaccinated to travel abroad and authorities battle against government distrust and vaccine disinformation.

When she rolled up her sleeve in the Bosnian capital of Sarajevo to take her first COVID-19 vaccine dose, Fata Keco was afraid of possible adverse side effects. But she said the worst she had to contend with over the next few days was “moderately discomforting pain” in her left arm around the site of the injection.

More significantly, the 52-year-old self-employed cleaning woman has joined the global community of vaccine-believers after months of “being very susceptible” to what she now describes as “the most ridiculous theories.”

She told The Associated Press that some of those that she heard were “that the coronavirus does not exist, that journalists were paid to spread panic, that planes were spraying us with viruses at night, that vaccines were being used by the powers that be to implant us with tracking microchips.”

“Now I feel relief for having done something to protect my health after putting myself in danger for a long time,” Keco said. “Also, I don’t mind that it will make my life easier if I decide to take a trip abroad.”

She isn’t alone in her transformation, especially after numerous European countries started tightening their anti-virus rules, including by requiring proof of vaccination from foreign visitors.

“I want to travel and study abroad and for that I have to be vaccinated,” said Esma Dzaka, 18, after getting her first dose Tuesday in Sarajevo.

European countries are smaller and people were used to crossing borders so the new restrictions are a good stimulus to get vaccinated. Americans travel much less to other countries and so that will not be much of an incentive except for the well-to-do.

So the unvaccinated will continue to die at much greater rates, an avoidable tragedy.


  1. Jörg says

    To put in one more vaccination experience to the stories, I got my booster shot with Moderna three days ago. (1st was AstraZeneca, 2nd BioNTech/Pfizer.) I have had from hardly discernible to no symptoms caused by my immune system, in part because of the dosage halved from the original for the booster.

  2. anat says

    It’s not that easy to get appointments for boosters in western Washington these days. I got mine early (November), my husband shortly after me, but our son only got an appointment in January.

  3. sonofrojblake says

    UKian here.

    I had a booking for what it turned out was a private healthcare provider booster injection this week. I turned up at the appointed time to find they’d all gone on a scheduled break. I hung around, assuming I’d made a mistake. Eventually they returned from their break, and I went to the desk where I was asked my name and date of birth. The fat woman behind the desk informed me that my appointment had been cancelled. “We’ve cancelled a lot of appointments today.” She then said “Didn’t you get the email?”. I managed to prevent myself asking if SHE was the sort of person who, on receiving an email telling her that her appointment had been cancelled, would nevertheless get in her car and drive half an hour to turn up on time anyway, because I suspect the answer would probably have been “Yes”. She called over a skinny dude and said “Are we doing walk-ins?”, to which he immediately responded “No.” I did point out that I wasn’t a “walk-in”, and that I’d had the appointment for over a month. She asked if I’d received the text message. I didn’t throw the desk at her, simply said “Let me get this straight -- you people have cancelled my appointment?” There was a pause. “Yes.” I didn’t speak again, I just left.

    I immediately rang my NHS doctor’s surgery. It was five in the evening. I relayed the above. The receptionist kept me on the phone for the two minutes it took her to book me an appointment at an NHS booster provider, for 10:00 the very next morning. I turned up on time and was boosted bang on time. Thank Bevan for the NHS, and I hope all shareholders in and board members of private healthcare providers get Covid really badly and nearly, but not quite, die.

  4. Jazzlet says

    sonofrojblake says @4 I understand your frustration at the appalling lack of service at the private (not actually a) provider, but what does the receptionist being fat have to do with anything?

    I got my booster at a local pharmacy, very effiecient.

  5. sonofrojblake says

    what does the receptionist being fat have to do with anything?

    Exactly as much as the ignorant fucker she talked to being skinny, which is to say -- it’s just a description intended to create a bit of a picture. Odd for you to fixate on it. I mean -- what does the pharmacy being local have to do with anything? Just seems an odd question.

  6. outis says

    Concerning the anti-V louts, in Italy there’s a beginning of a comeback from the regular press, relating sad tales of former anti-Vs either dying or escaping by the skin of their teeth.
    It seems that after such a harrowing experience the survivors are able to find the courage of admitting their mistake, and are urging others to get vaccinated, pronto.
    Illness from Covid is no picnic, “just another flu” my a$$.

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