State of Vermont data lacks transparency
by William Moore, VT Stands Up
As a spokesperson for Vermont Stands Up, I am glad to provide data and analysis provided below. We hope the State of Vermont, and especially Governor Phil Scott and Health Commissioner Dr. Mark Levine, see to it that these questions and critiques are addressed in the future.
Vermonters deserve the best, most comprehensive, and robust information be used to set SARS CoV-2 policy and for guidance to critical institutions, especially Vermont schools. We deserve better and expect the need for critical analysis to become more integral to the Vermont Legislature as they also craft policy and respond in the development of bills before them. Vermonters will not stand for anything less.
The VT Department of Health COVID dashboard has a chart that shows cases in the fully vaccinated versus the not fully vaccinated as rates per 100,000. Looking at this chart, the cases in the “not fully vaccinated” appear to be outpacing cases in the “fully vaccinated”. However, looking at the absolute numbers, meaning the total number of individuals in either category who tested positive, the opposite picture emerges. The number of individuals testing positive for COVID in the “fully vaccinated” category currently outnumbers those in the “not fully vaccinated” group (7629 fully vaccinated versus 5593 not fully vaccinated for the week of January 9, 2022).
Further, when looking at absolute numbers of individuals in the hospital with COVID, the picture becomes even murkier. These numbers are so small that the “fully vaccinated” and “not fully vaccinated” become statistically indistinguishable; yet the public is repeatedly told that based on rates of COVID cases, especially the rate of cases amongst the unvaccinated, hospitals and the healthcare system are strained.
Why does the State only present their data as rates instead of showing both rates and absolute numbers?
The problem with using rates is people are misled into believing a higher rate means there are a higher number of individuals who are impacted. As the charts demonstrate, this is simply not true. Since there is such a disproportionate number of Vermonters who are not “fully vaccinated” (155,278 “not fully vaccinated” versus 468,710 “fully vaccinated”), the higher rate among the “not fully vaccinated” actually represents a smaller absolute number.
Utilizing only rates also assumes that the main difference between these two groups is vaccination status when there might be a number of confounding factors impacting whether someone comes down with COVID or not (health, age, mobility, exposure, risk tolerance, etc.). Therefore, these comparisons are problematic, especially when trying to make claims about causality.
However, setting that aside, if the COVID vaccines worked, the expectation is that virtually no one, or only a very small portion, of the “fully vaccinated” would test positive, but this has never been true. The absolute number of cases in the “fully vaccinated” and “not fully vaccinated” since the beginning of the Delta wave in August 2021 has ranged between 40-60% in both categories, meaning the average is 50% each, or virtually no difference at all. For the past three weeks, cases in the “fully vaccinated” have outpaced cases in the “not fully vaccinated”. This is not insignificant. Other countries, who have been open with their data and who are seeing a similar pattern, are now concluding the vaccines have a negative efficacy, meaning the “fully vaccinated” *more* likely to get COVID, especially with the booster.
Vermonters should be able to readily see these numbers on the COVID dashboard instead of having to dig for them on the Vermont Open Geodata Portal. Earlier last year, the State presented absolute case numbers among the data, but this oddly dropped off after the summer when they started comparing groups by vaccination status. Was this because the absolute numbers didn’t fit the “pandemic of the unvaccinated” narrative?
It is malfeasance if the State is purposefully misleading the public by leaving out important parts of the COVID data set. Vermonters need to demand transparency. It is clear now these vaccines do not protect one from getting and spreading COVID, and therefore, have no population benefit whatsoever. It is an inexcusable that this distinction is still being used to encourage discrimination against the small minority of Vermonters, who have chosen for personal reasons not to get COVID vaccinations.
The author is a Johnson resident.