Rantz: Here’s why WA officials don’t admit COVID death rate is lower than breakthrough case rate

Nov 15, 2021, 6:06 PM | Updated: Nov 17, 2021, 5:52 am
death rate...
A nurse wearing protective clothing emerges from a tent at a coronavirus testing center at the UW Medical Center on March 13, 2020, in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)
(Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)

Public health officials rightly celebrate the efficacy of COVID vaccines for keeping you out of the hospital or an early grave. Those same officials, however, say virtually nothing about the death rate for unvaccinated COVID patients. Why not? Because those numbers are nearly identical.

Washington reported last week over 69,000 breakthrough cases where vaccinated people were infected with COVID. These cases represent about 1.33% of the COVID vaccinated Washingtonians over 12 years old in the state. Though the data is somewhat misleading, it’s objectively good news and makes a case to get vaccinated if you haven’t already recovered from the virus.

But nearly as low — arguably, the numbers are closer to identical than not — is the chance of death from COVID. In fact, for most Washingtonians, the chances of being a breakthrough case are almost as low as dying from COVID. So why the attempts to keep us in a constant state of fear?

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The actual data is good news

There have been 69,026 identified breakthrough cases out of the 5,197,777 vaccinated (fully or partially) Washingtonians through Oct. 10, 2021. That’s a low rate, though the data is undoubtedly flawed.

There have been 8,934 COVID-related deaths out of 750,477 positive and confirmed cases, making the death rate at just 1.19% through Oct. 15. That’s a low rate, though the data here is also undoubtedly flawed.

Because of how flawed both data sets are, despite the breakthrough case and death rates being under half a percentage of each other, they’re likely to be even closer when you account for the true numbers.

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Asymptomatic Washingtonians with COVID are unlikely to get tested (particularly when they’re kids, and especially near the start of the pandemic). If they’re vaccinated, they’re even less likely to get tested. That means both sets of numbers — the total number of COVID cases and the total number of breakthrough cases — are likely lower than the data provided. If both numbers are lower, the breakthrough case rate likely ticks up a bit, and the death rate likely ticks down.

“[The report] shows that our breakthrough cases still remain in the area that we expect them. We expect to have around 1% or less of all vaccinated folks to have breakthrough,” said Acting Chief Science Officer Dr. Scott Lindquist during a briefing.

They expect 1% breakthrough cases for a virus that has about a 1% death rate. That means it’s incredibly rare to become infected with COVID while vaccinated. Likewise, it’s incredibly rare to die from COVID (whether or not you’re vaccinated). So why don’t officials say that?

Why don’t public health officials highlight the low death rate?

Specific demographics and underlying health conditions obviously play a role in these rates. Still, with the overall picture looking nearly identical, it seems odd that public health officials and the media are singularly focused. But it’s intentional.

Public health officials and Democrat politicians are singularly focused on you getting vaccinated, regardless of the consequences. They view the unvaccinated as dirty — so much so that they’ll gut their own agencies and departments to weed out the people who don’t think like them.

While I support people getting vaccinated in consultation with their doctors (it’s what I did), it should be a personal choice. You shouldn’t be coerced or forced into it by the government. The argument is that getting vaccinated saves lives. That’s certainly true, but a much harder sell, if they pointed out the COVID death rate is 1% (and much, much lower when you account for people under the age of 65).

A one-size-fits-all approach to most medical issues isn’t wise. It’s why not everyone with asthma, for example, takes the same medications. COVID should be no exception. Yet, regardless of age or risk factors, many are forced into a vaccine they may not need. How many studies does one need to show natural immunity from a previous (and especially recent) COVID infection protects you?

Rather than be up front about what all the data says, we get doomsday predictions and warnings. The media is too happy to play along.

The media is too willing to fearmonger

From watching, listening, or reading coverage on COVID, do you get the sense that the death rate from COVID is low? Or that the vast majority of people who get COVID never see the inside of an emergency room or ICU? Probably not. So, where are the media members to quell some unreasonable fears with accurate and relevant information about COVID risks? They’re too busy playing hero.

Journalism and good journalists are important. But it is dangerous when a journalist has a holier-than-thou view of the work they do. Too many, especially local journalists in many large markets, pretend they’re doing G-d’s work. Many have convinced themselves that it’s on them to save lives — it’s what they do, they think. So they justify their misleading coverage by convincing themselves it’s for the greater good.

Several outlets parroted claims by Seattle Children’s Hospital that its ICUs were overrun with child-COVID cases. The hospital provided no data publicly. It took a few leaks to the Jason Rantz Show on KTTH to figure out the data didn’t back the claims — not even close. So why were the claims broadcast unvetted? Because reporters approved of the messaging: They must protect the children!

Meanwhile, the Tacoma News Tribune amplifies a claim by Dino Johnson, the chief operating officer at St. Anthony Hospital. He says the hospital is “full” due to unvaccinated patients. What’s that number?

“Johnson declined to give a number,” reports the TNT.

They did not fully vet the claim. But the paper likes the message.

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Conflating issues

You can point out that COVID is serious and can stress hospitals — both statements are true — without treating a 1% death rate as a 1% survival rate.

But we’re not getting reasonable coverage. We see local and national outlets leaning into the most panic-inducing coverage they can muster. I know panic sells, but can we reel it in just a bit for the sake of everyone’s mental health that the media outlets feign interest in protecting?

Journalists are supposed to question everything. Instead, they often parrot whatever a public health official or expert tells them. Recent hysterical coverage of ivermectin offers a great example.

Ivermectin stories are wildly inaccurate or misleading

A TV station said a doctor, falsely identified as working with a specific Oklahoma hospital, claimed the state is being overrun with ivermectin overdose patients. It’s gotten so bad that gunshot victims aren’t being treated. The entire story was a fabrication. But that didn’t stop Rolling Stone, Joy Reid, Rachel Maddow, and some CNN news anchors from amplifying the story. They didn’t bother to fact-check it. Had they done basic leg work, they would have realized the claims were completely false.

CNN repeatedly and falsely claimed podcaster Joe Rogan consumed horse dewormer.

Anchors and talking heads made it sound like he went to the vet to pick up some horse goo. They didn’t feel the need to point out the drug was prescribed by a doctor and that it’s been used billions of times by humans. Indeed, the U.S. government has nearly all refugees coming to this country take ivermectin.

Local outlets did as bad

Locally, some outlets are leaning into the fearmongering, too. After all, it appears conservative voices are hoping that ivermectin helps with COVID. We’re alerted that calls to the Washington Poison Center tripled since last year’s calls! Oh my.

The headline in the left-wing Seattle Times is meant to convey the message that people are getting sick from ivermectin: “Ivermectin poison control calls triple in Washington, despite multiple warnings against use for COVID treatment.”

Those silly rubes are calling poison control despite warnings not to use ivermectin to treat COVID, we’re told. Last year, no one had really heard of ivermectin. Naturally, there are more calls this year than last. But the total number over nine months to the Washington Poison Center? There’s been 31 as of September.

And here’s an interesting tidbit from the very article with a headline attempting to mislead you: “Most calls were from people asking about ivermectin safety …”

Is the Times angry that people are calling experts to double-check about the drug before taking it? It seems like they should commend the handful of people who acted responsibly.

There are implications

You can report on the benefits of the vaccine. There are plenty. You can also tell people the death rate of COVID is low. That’s the truth. You can highlight who is most at risk without undercutting the vaccine benefits. People aren’t as stupid or naïve as they think — though, admittedly, if you spend enough time on Twitter, that can change your perception of the public.

Willfully ignoring data that is easily available makes people question the intent and the other data presented. No one can honestly argue that the death rate being low isn’t relevant here. It’s as relevant as the low breakthrough case rate. Both sets of data should be celebrated and highlighted by the public.

More worrisome, when one overstates threats, people tend to catch on, some more quickly than others. But ultimately, there becomes fear fatigue followed by the realization that the threat is being overstated. Then when there’s an actual threat worth taking seriously, more and more people will tune out the warnings when they should not.

Is the delta variant to blame for the rise in case rates in the unvaccinated (and less so the vaccinated)? Yup. But perhaps public health officials and media members who keep overhyping every single story while pushing inconsistent messaging are playing a role, too. Perhaps, though, the intentional fearmongering isn’t just about vaccination-at-all-costs but about power and weeding out the “wrong kind of people” from society.

Did you like this opinion piece? Then listen to the Jason Rantz Show weekday afternoons from 3-6 p.m. on KTTH 770 AM (HD Radio 97.3 FM, HD-Channel 3). Subscribe to the podcast here. Follow @JasonRantz  on  Twitter,  Instagram, and like me on Facebook

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Rantz: Here’s why WA officials don’t admit COVID death rate is lower than breakthrough case rate