Stat-driven view on how American conservatives shifted against vaccine

As we know by now, conservatives in the U.S. are more commonly against getting vaccinated for Covid, but it wasn’t always like that. Vox shows how ideas shifted to get to where we are now.

The 1990s elementary school aesthetic with markers and overhead projector slides works well here. The choices guide you step-by-step through the data points.

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Death rates by vaccination booster status

Our World in Data continues their important work on providing and showing up-to-date Covid data. Most recently, they updated death rates in Switzerland by vaccination plus booster status. The rates for the unvaccinated are expectedly much higher, but also the rates for those with a booster are multiples lower than those fully vaccinated with no booster.

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Vaccination rates compared against country wealth

Vaccine supply is only part of the equation. For The New York Times, Keith Collins and Josh Holder looked at distribution of available doses in countries, categorized by income group.

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Simpson’s Paradox in vaccination data

This chart, made by someone who is against vaccinations, shows a higher mortality rate for those who are vaccinated versus those who are not. Strange. It shows real data from the Office of National Statistics in the UK. As explained by Stuart McDonald, Simpson’s Paradox is at play:

[W]ithin the 10-59 age band, the average unvaccinated person is much younger than the average vaccinated person, and therefore has a lower death rate. Any benefit from the vaccines is swamped by the increase in all-cause mortality rates with age.

If you’re unfamiliar, Simpson’s Paradox is when a trend appears in separate groups but then disappears or reverses when you combine the groups. In this case, the confounding factors of age and vaccine uptake makes the above chart useless.

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Euler diagram to illustrate base rate fallacy

Some people point out that vaccinated people are still hospitalized as a defense against getting vaccinated. But they ignore the inverse which compares the number of those who are not hospitalized. Someone (source?) made this Euler diagram to illustrate the inverse.

It’s about making a fair comparison. People who wear seat belts can still die in a car collision. People who use contraception can still get STIs. People who eat healthy can still have high cholesterol. But we know these things reduce the chances of dying in a car crash, of getting an STI, and having high cholesterol, so we adjust our choices.

[via @visualisingdata]

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Communicating effectiveness of boosters

Statisticians David Spiegelhalter and Anthony Masters for The Guardian on reframing risk estimates:

An earlier UKHSA study estimated two Pfizer/BioNTech doses gave around 99.7% (97.6% to near-100%) protection against Delta-infected hospitalisation, but after 20 weeks that effectiveness waned to 92.7% (90.3% to 94.6%). This estimated decline for people over 16 may not sound much, but if we look at it in terms of “lack of protection”, their estimated vulnerability relative to being unvaccinated went from 0.3% to 7.3%. That is a major, although uncertain, increase in risk.

Such “negative framing” can change impressions: “90% fat-free” sounds rather different than “10% fat”.

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Cases, hospitalizations, and deaths for vaccinated vs. unvaccinated

The CDC released a chart that shows case, hospitalization, and death rates for fully vaccinated (blue) against not fully vaccinated (black). As you might expect, the rates for the fully vaccinated are much lower, especially for hospitalizations and deaths.

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How vaccines can make a difference with the Delta variant

We see percentages for the vaccinated and unvaccinated, and people can easily misinterpret or miscommunicate the results. It’s especially problematic when people are actively trying to confirm misconceptions. For The New York Times, Lauren Leatherby tries to make things clearer imagining two groups: one that is 20% vaccinated and one that is 95% vaccinated.

Vaccines work.

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Decline of U.S. vaccination rate compared against Europe’s

Elian Peltier and Josh Holder for The New York Times highlight the vaccination rates increasing in Europe while the United States rate stalls:

Europe has plenty of people who distrust the shots and their governments, but vaccine resistance in the United States is more widespread and vehement, particularly among conservatives, and falls more sharply along partisan lines. The E.U. vaccination effort has slowed recently, but not like the U.S. drive, which has declined more than 80 percent.

Also of interest: NYT managed to squeeze in a bar chart race, a Marimekko chart, and a beeswarm chart all in the same article. That’s gotta be a record for them.

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Slowing and then renewed interest in getting vaccinated

When countries gained access to vaccines, there was an initial burst of vaccinations, but the rate leveled off in most places. Then a variant arrives, and an incentive or another push for vaccinations increases the rate. Reuters looks at the rate shift in different countries, in the context of trying to reach 70 percent vaccinated.

The set of difference charts took me a minute to digest, but then seems straightforward after. More orange fill means much slower than the initial vaccination rate, and more green fill means a bigger bump after a lull.

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