Well explained data

The Our World in Data team put together a well explained visualization (here) of COVID data post-vaccines in the past 6 months.

It starts by explaining the importance of understanding death rates vs. the raw number of deaths to understand vaccine effectiveness.

Once we have that out of the way, we can now look at how the stats have trended. Vaccine performance has been similar to trials – J&J has a higher death rate than the Pfizer/Moderna vaccine. And, the vaccines – on average – reduce the mortality rate between 400%-800%.

It is fascinating to see an even higher delta between the vaccinated and the unvaccinated in the UK. This is a combination of the Pfizer and the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine. I wonder if it is driven by more severe waves driven by a more urban population.

And, finally, we only see a 200% delta in Chile where the vaccinations were done with the Sinovac vaccine (lower effectiveness).

This combination of explainer + chart is a great example of well explained data. It captures the nuance (mortality rate vs. mortality) while still keeping it simple.

If you do enjoy a more complex data visualization, Nassim Taleb had a good one. He explained that COVID isn’t an old person problem. It just acts as a multiplier on existing mortality rates. It is just that the mortality rate for older folks is higher by default.

I think 2022 will be the final year of the COVID-19 pandemic in most countries. With anti-viral pills on the way, health officials won’t need to work on vaccine adoption curves as hard as they do right now. It is futile. If data from over 3B fully vaccinated people doesn’t help, nothing will. :-) When people land up in a hospital next year, they’ll just get the anti-viral pill.

It’ll be interesting to see how long masking lives on though. As an example, folks who traveled a 16 hour flight recently were understandably complaining about feeling suffocated. But, airlines are all about the theatre (security checks, etc.) – so, some effects may linger longer than most of us hope.

Finally, as we head into the thanksgiving long weekend, I got my booster shot yesterday. I walked into a Costco, asked if it was available, filled up a form, and got my shot for free.

That’s a lot of privilege right there.

Much to be grateful for, I have.