Let’s start with a simple truth:
Vaccinated people are far far far less likely to spread the virus than unvaccinated people
Like way less likely
A lot less
Pretty clear from the data we have so far
That's my Friday thought— Ashish K. Jha, MD, MPH (@ashishkjha) July 30, 2021
If you get your news from our must trusted mainstream sources, however, it would be very understandable if you thought otherwise:
VACCINATED PEOPLE DO NOT TRANSMIT THE VIRUS AT THE SAME RATE AS UNVACCINATED PEOPLE AND IF YOU FAIL TO INCLUDE THAT CONTEXT YOU'RE DOING IT WRONG. https://t.co/gBkDbJ21xX— Ben Wakana (@benwakana46) July 30, 2021
Two critical points:
1)The CDC report, at most, indicates that vaccinated people who get infected with COVID-19 are similarly likely to transmit the virus. But vaccinated people are much, much, much less likely to get infected, and hence much, much less likely to transmit the virus, despite the strong implication otherwise of the NYT tweet,
2)Given the extent to which the study relies on one highly unrepresentative event (a 4th of July event in Provincetown) it’s not even very strong evidence that vaccinated people who get infected with COVID-19 are equally likely to transmit the virus.
A related problem is reporting scary-sounding numbers of breakthrough infections without any mention of the vastly higher denominator:
Every news outlet needs to get some guidelines in place for its editors and social media staff. People don't understand denominators or rare events! pic.twitter.com/POYEh6kOGf— Brendan Nyhan (@BrendanNyhan) July 30, 2021
The conservative media ecosystem is the biggest problem, but the misleading clickbait being put out by mainstream sources is really, really not helping.