Thursday, February 24, 2022

Vox explains 'How American conservatives turned against the vaccine,' a pandemic update

Vox gave me an opportunity to change the subject from climate change to pandemic yesterday with How American conservatives turned against the vaccine.

The partisan pandemic, explained in 15 charts.
President Donald Trump presided over the fastest vaccine development process in history, leading to abundant, free vaccines in the US by the spring of 2021. Although the mRNA Covid-19 vaccines haven’t been able to stop transmission of the virus, they have been highly effective against hospitalization and death, saving hundreds of thousands of lives and rendering the majority of new Covid-19 deaths preventable.

Trump has received three doses of the vaccine. But many of his most dedicated supporters have refused, and many have died as a result. Why? Obvious culprits include misinformation on social media and Fox News and the election of Joe Biden, which placed a Democrat at the top of the US government throughout the vaccine distribution period. But if you look closely at the data, you’ll see that vaccine-hesitant conservatives largely made up their mind well before the vaccines were available and before Donald Trump lost the 2020 election.

To understand why, I took a deep dive into the data, interviewed researchers, and spoke to people who lost loved ones to preventable severe Covid-19 infections. What I found is a stark cautionary tale for the country and for Republican political elites. Partisan polarization takes on a life of its own; once set into motion it’s nearly impossible to stop, even when the fallout is immense and irreparable.
I found this depressing but not surprising, as I've been seeing this develop since I wrote Samantha Bee on 'Mask Hysteria' two years ago, even before vaccines. Since then, I've been paying attention to Charles Gaba at who has been tracking vaccination rates vs. partisanship since May 2021.* He found the same relationship between party identification and vaccination rates that Vox showed in the video above. In fact, it has been getting more pronounced, as the animated .gif he included in his most recent post on the subject, Updated: A Full Year of U.S. COVID Vaccinations by Partisan Lean...Animated, shows. Watch as the slope steepens over time.

The disparities in vaccination rates have resulted in noticeably higher death rates in counties that voted Republican in 2020, which Charles graphed two days ago.

Yikes! Talk about dying to "own the libs!"

*I've known Charles since before I started writing this blog, but I've never mentioned him here before. After eleven years, it's about time I did. He does very good work on health care and my readers should read him, too.

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