Vaccine Injuries and Whit Merrifield
Let's run some numbers!
Now and then on the ‘Stack I let it slip that I’m a Royals fan, and recently two of my (probably unhealthy) hobbies collided when Whit Merrifield (and numerous other Royals) couldn’t make the trip to Toronto to play the Blue Jays because of his unvaccinated status.
While talking to the press, Whit admittedly put his foot in his mouth when discussing the issue and later attempted to clarify his reasoning:
Since this little debacle, the Royals subreddit has been all frothed at Whit’s ‘anti-vaxx’ status, and yesterday I pointed out that it’s almost certain that Whit Merrifield knows people who have had serious adverse reactions to the jab, and that he knows of athletes who have missed serious time because of it.
Oh, Reddit, never change.
So today we’re going to do a little bit of covid math. Back of the envelope stuff, but powerful nonetheless.
But before we get into the math of the situation, I want to make it perfectly clear that the only person who should decide what goes into Whit Merrifield’s body is Whit Merrifield. It’s his decision alone to make. This should really be the end of the story. He’s got to make his own risk/reward calculation and come to his own conclusion — exactly as everybody should have done. Remember, the proper role of science is to inform, not to compel.
Back when I was deciding ‘what to do’ about covid, I dug deep into the official data being pumped out by SO MANY health agencies — it was a stat geek’s dream come true. (Ironically, I credit baseball and its endless numbers for my interest in statistics) When I dove into the data, it was CLEAR that people of my age and fitness level didn’t have a serious problem shaking off the virus. Thus, my ‘what to do’ about covid was this — catch it as quickly as I could so I would acquire immunity and be a ‘firebreak’ for the virus, almost certainly ensuring that I wouldn’t pass it on after I got over the bug. (It still took me nearly 20 months and a infected vaccinated friend) Furthermore, I reasoned that becoming the firebreak was the only step I could take that would actually help my community in a tangible way.
Other people have different circumstances and would come to different conclusions. That’s perfectly understandable. But Whit Merrifield is in better shape than me. (Shocker, I know) Whit Merrifield is younger than me. And Whit Merrifield makes his living with his body. All of these things point to him being in very very little danger of the virus, (I heard an interview very early in which he acknowledged this, but noted the team was worried about the health of fans) while an adverse reaction from the jab costs Whit Merrifield a lot more than it would cost most of us. Were I Whit Merrifield, I likely would make the same exact risk/reward calculation that he did.
A very worrying thing here: nobody’s saying that Whit is actually in danger from the virus. Nobody claims (anymore) that Whit getting the shot will stop him from spreading the virus. The ‘reward’ isn’t even health-related any longer — it’s completely about compliance to dumb rules that have never affected virus activity. Do what we say or you are not allowed to work here. We should all be uncomfortable with that.
Without further rambling, let’s get to our back-of-the-envelope math. At each step along the way, we’re going to downplay our numbers by assuming things that are likely not true. (you’ll see when we get there) It’s worth pointing out that I have no special insight into the Royals or anything, and these numbers work (and will likely work better due to my assumptions) with any group of 50 people.
First, we visit the monkeysphere. If you haven’t read this brilliant article from The Before Times of the internet, here’s your chance! A preview:
And the number we’re going to use is 150, though when we’re talking about communications networks, we’re really talking about a combination of professional networks (baseball players almost certainly have larger ones than normal people), people in the monkeysphere, and opposing teams and THEIR monkeyspheres. But to err on the side of caution, we’re going to ignore everybody but that original 150 ‘monkeysphere’ number.
We’re FURTHER going to assume that each of the 50 people in the immediate Royals organization (players/coaches/trainers, etc) ARE ALREADY in the monkeysphere of everybody else, leaving each person in the organization ‘knowing’ only 100 new people.
50 people in organization x 100 people each person knows = 5000 people
So people in the Royals organization ‘know’ (or communicate with, or are friends with, whatever) 5000 people between them. In the US, we average roughly 1.8 vaccine shots per person. (Just over 600 million doses, about 335 million people) Obviously this number is higher in adults, but we’re going to assume these 5000 people include an equal number of children, which is obviously going downplay the numbers. (again)
So the 5,000 people in the immediate Royals circle have taken roughly 9,000 doses between them. The German government recently stated that serious adverse reactions occur about every 5,000 doses — meaning that it’s very likely that there are two people in the immediate 5,000-person circle who have had a bad reaction themselves. (Direct evidence)
But when you talk to your friends, they also talk about THEIR friends, don’t they? Once again we’ll assume the ‘worst’ for our math and assume THOSE friends also only know 100 new people to add to the circle.
5,000 person ‘immediate’ circle x 100 people = 500,000 ‘friend-of-a-friend’ circle
And since those people also average 1.8 shots per person, there are 900,000 doses between them. And using the German 1-in-5000 doses data, that means we can expect 180 serious vaccine reactions in those 900,000 doses. That’s a lot of stories that get relayed (via circle 1) back to the Royals (or whoever — because remember, this works with any group of 50 people).
This is why when people get together, it seems like almost everybody knows somebody who’s had a terrible reaction to the vaccine. A group of just 10 people taken to our very conservative ‘friend-of-a-friend’ level encompasses 100,000 people and 180,000 doses, leading to an ‘expected’ outcome of 36 adverse effects. That type of news travels quickly AND comes from trusted sources. It’s no wonder new vaccine uptake has bottomed out:
Until this stuff becomes common knowledge, I guess I’ll just remain banned for ‘spreading misinformation’ about this wacky conspiracy theory.
No, not those conspiracy theories, this conspiracy theory:
What’s the correct amount of risk for Whit Merrifield to undertake? The internet gatekeepers seem to know — and they’ll ban you if you disagree.