Covid-19 Vaccinations: The US and the rest of the world

We are at 56% vaccinated. Progress in getting the other 44% of our population vaccinated is difficult. Also, we are doing worse than many other developed countries. We are a long distance from the getting to the “herd immunity” target of 70 to 85% fully vaccinated. The country has spent billions of dollars buying up a large supply of vaccines. There has been a huge effort put into an effective distribution system. Free transportation has been offered to the elderly. So, the US has not excuse.

Time for the numbers. I just report the percent fully vaccinated in other countries, with sizeable populations, who have administered at least 5 million doses. There are 14 countries who have between 70 to 85% of their population vaccinated: There are in order of highest to lowest, Portugal (85%), Singapore, Spain, UAE, France, Denmark, China, Italy, Ireland, Chile, Belgium, Uruguay, Canada and Cambodia (70%).

Next up is the 60 to 70% vaccinated group and 12 countries are included. The countries are, listed from highest to lowest are: Norway, UK, Netherlands, Malaysia, Finland, Sweden, Germany, Japan, Israel, Austria, Panama and Switzerland.

The European Union is 65.8% vaccinated with 575 million vaccines administered. Now, the 18 developed nations, with 50 to 60% vaccinated are: South Korea, Greece, Hungary, Ecuador, El Salvador, Dominican Republic, Hong Kong, Sri Lanka, Morocco, Czech Republic, US (56.4%), Turkey, Turkmenistan, Oman, Cuba, Argentina, Poland and Slovenia.

I note that even though the European Union has a higher rate of vaccinations, their citizens are not yet permitted to travel as tourists to the US. It is highly likely that this will change in early November.

As I rank the developed countries from high to low in terms of being fully vaccinated, the US is ranked #37. We were getting our vaccines ahead of many countries. How did we fall so far behind?

There are certainly worse countries, who haven’t achieved 50%. Large countries with low vaccination rates are: Brazil (47%), Mexico (38%), Thailand (33%), Russia (31%), India (20%) and Pakistan (17%). Africa and the Middle East are in terrible shape. After Morroco (56%), South Africa has just 17% vaccinated, and the other 49 countries in Africa are all lower!

This is being correctly called the pandemic of the unvaccinated. Epidemiologists knows, “What goes around, comes around.” For those who have had Covid, a negative Covid test, doesn’t mean your back to normal. It just means that you will not be spreading the disease. I know of one case of “Long Covid” and it is really sad. After being release from the hospital, he has to be hooked up to an oxygen tank to breath. Long Covid is a grouping of common and long lasting post-Covid symptoms, which include:

  • Extreme tiredness
  • Shortness of breath, heart palpitations, chest pain or tightness
  • Problems with memory and concentration (“brain fog”)
  • Changes to taste and smell
  • Joint pain

It is not known if these symptoms will be permanent. I want to enjoy life, and that includes travel, eating out and visiting with friends. The news on long Covid is real, and it should be a strong incentive for everyone to get vaccinated. It is far better to strengthen your immune system to keep Covid from reproducing, instead of doing battle with it once it begins the infection process and overwhelms your defenses. It is a war, and you want to keep your enemy out of the trenches. I don’t know how else to explain it. It is a choice of being pro-active, instead of re-active.

As far as mandatory vaccination policies, I certainly can see the rationale for it, particularly for people in close contact with many people during the day. Companies have tried to make the office environment safe, but you can go around disinfecting every surface that someone has touched. A lot of work can not be effectively done over Zoom. I’m not going into to the legal aspects.

We can and have to be doing better. It took me less than an hour to get each of my shots, and that includes the drive to the clinic, paperwork, and the shot. I am looking forward to getting a booster soon. I think it was truly a miracle to have highly effective vaccines available in under a year.

Today, we are 56% vaccinated. Can we catch up to Portugal? China? The EU? I never think of a goal to achieve herd immunity, The goal should be 100% vaccinated. This is the point of unconditionally surrender for this terrible disease.

Stay tuned,

Dave

Links:

BBC: Long Covid

GOP gubernatorial candidate Allen West released from hospital after Covid-19 diagnosis

Bloomberg: Vaccine Tracker

Debt Crisis – What’s not True

“The past debt ceiling paid for everything in the Trump administration, plus seven months of this Biden administration.”

— House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), in an interview on Fox News, Sept. 21

The Washington Post call McCarthy’s statement “highly misleading.” Debt accumulates when the government spends more than it takes in. However, the cause of this debt can occur much earlier, when the legislature authorizes spending and changes to tax laws.

So, Trump’s 2017 tax cuts for the wealthy and business owners have contributed to increased debt since the debt ceiling was suspended in 2019. The CARES act, was a 2.2 trillion dollar program, signed into law by President Trump in response to the economic fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States. Democrats and Republicans supported the suspension or increases in the debt ceiling three times under President Trump.

Republicans and Kevin McCarthy are real hypocrites, because the debt ceiling must be increased as a result of spending bills and tax cuts they supported during the Trump administration.

Republican refused to approve increases or suspension of the debt ceiling in 2011, 2013, 2014 and 2015 while Obama was president until we were at the brink of exhausting all extraordinary measures to keep from defaulting on our debt. Then suddenly raising the debt ceiling was ok, under the Trump administration.

The US credit rating fell after the 2011 debt ceiling crisis, which increases the interest we pay on our debt obligations, even though in the end, the debt ceiling was raised.

Honestly, the debt ceiling should not exist. Per Wikipedia: In January 2013, a survey of 38 highly regarded economists found that 84% agreed that, since Congress already approves spending and taxation, “a separate debt ceiling that has to be increased periodically creates unneeded uncertainty and can potentially lead to worse fiscal outcomes.” Only one member of the panel, Luigi Zingales, disagreed with the statement. Rating agency Moody’s has stated that “the debt limit creates a high level of uncertainty”and that the government should change “its framework for managing government debt to lessen or eliminate that uncertainty”.

Stay tuned,

Dave

Links:

Washington Post, White House rules out concessions over debt ceiling while GOP refuses to help avert crisis

Washington Post: McCarthy’s misleading claim that 2019 debt-ceiling hike paid for all of Trump’s policies

Congress Must Suspend or Raise the Debt Limit

Wikipedia: Debt Ceiling

Wikipedia: History of Debt Ceiling

Politifact Kevin McCarthy’s Honesty

Mostly “Pants on Fire” or “False” statements.