Data suggests you should get the COVID-19 vaccine
Data for this New Zealand focused blog was collected from various worldwide sources between the 18th and 31st August 2021. A list of sources can be found at the end. NZ is currently vaccinating solely with the Pfizer/BioNTech mRNA COVID-19 vaccine.
This blog was born out of a frustration of encountering people who aren’t going to get the COVID-19 vaccine because “COVID-19 is not likely to affect them” or because they are too selfish to even consider trying to protect other New Zealander’s who can’t get the vaccine due to medical reasons or due to being too young. This got me thinking of the statistical probabilities of being affected by COVID-19 compared to other potential life events such as getting hit by a car, winning lotto or simply being born in Aotearoa/New Zealand. Even though I had a hunch of how the data would dictate the narrative of this blog, I was still shocked at what I found.
New Zealand on Earth
New Zealand currently has a population of approximately 5.1 million people.
This accounts for around 0.06% of the entire world’s population. 1 in every 1,547 people on Earth live in Aotearoa.
Currently, only about 1 in every 2,431 babies are born in Aotearoa. Your chances of having New Zealand listed as your birthplace are even less than living here.
We are a rare breed considering there are only 195 recognised countries in the world.
Now let’s talk COVID-19
Worldwide there have been over 216 million reported cases of COVID-19 and this is increasing quickly. That accounts for close to 2.742% of the world’s population or 1 in every 36 people.
However, we do know people can be infected more than once. As of June 2021, approximately 16,000 people had caught COVID-19 more than once in the UK, out of over 4,600,000 cases. That’s only 0.35% of all reported cases or 1 out of every 288 people who have had COVID.
Whilst this is only one country as a sample, the number of multiple infections is so minimal that we can still assume that 1 in every 36 people on Earth has contracted COVID-19. That number is quickly rising. The 7 days leading up to 30 August 2021 saw an average of 650,000 worldwide cases a day. In 8 days, that is more than the entire New Zealand population.
We can also assume that this number is significantly underreported as some countries don’t have the same testing capabilities as others, nor does everyone get a test, especially those who are asymptomatic. Some models suggest 1 out of every 3 Americans had contracted COVID-19 at some point before the end of 2020.
There have been over 4,498,451 deaths reported from COVID-19. 2.1% of reported cases has resulted in a mortality. 1 in every 48 people who have reportedly contracted COVID-19 has died. This number, like testing, will also have been underreported.
Of course, younger people are less likely to die if they do become infected with COVID-19. Data out of New York city, once the epicenter of the virus, suggests that only 22.4% of deaths are in those aged 45 to 65. This drops to only 3.9% for those younger than 45. Worldwide age group data is hard to come by to support the NYC data but based on that, 1 in 1231 were under the age of 45.
0.057% of the world’s population has died from COVID-19 so far. That may not seem like a very high percentage, but it equates to 1 in every 1,754 people.
While death may be the most serious side effect of COVID-19, long COVID has also plagued many people. Common symptoms include chronic fatigue and brain fog. The UK has reported that as many as 20% of people who contract COVID-19 are still experiencing symptoms after 5 weeks, and in both the UK and USA, 10% of people still suffer symptoms after 12 weeks.
In New Zealand we have been fortunate so far. Even with the current August 2021 outbreak, we have recorded only 3,569 cases of COVID-19 and which have resulted in 26 deaths. We have lost 1 out of every 196,154 people living in Aotearoa. Still an unfortunate number but nowhere near the world average.
Given how largely unaffected we have been by COVID-19 compared to most other countries, there are some in the community who may not see the need to get the COVID-19 vaccine. Since January 2021, 99.5% of all reported COVID-19 deaths in the USA were from those who are unvaccinated. That is a staggering percentage. There absolutely is a need.
Data on the Delta variant of COVID-19 is still being analysed but early reports suggest that the Pfizer vaccine is at least 80% effective in preventing COVID-19 infection, 88% effective against COVID-19 symptoms, and 96% effective against hospitalisation.
But what about those side effects? Medsafe NZ reported that after 2,188,771 doses administered of the vaccine, that 8,772 had minor side effects such as a headache or dizziness, and 385 had a more serious adverse reaction. That’s 0.018% of all doses resulting in a serious side effect or 1 in every 5,685 doses.
One of the more talked about side effects is myocarditis, an inflammation of the heart. This has unfortunately resulted in a death in NZ recently, although they also had other health conditions. The CDC in the USA has reported that after two doses of the Pzifer vaccine, 20.2 cases of myocarditis has been reported per 1 million shots of the vaccine. That’s 0.002% of all vaccines resulting in myocarditis.
Most cases of myocarditis are not serious. Young men are seen most at risk from this but typically cases are mild and recover within a short timeframe. One study into young people suggests that younger males are 6 times more likely to develop myocarditis from COVID-19 itself, than from a vaccine.
How does COVID-19 compare to other possible life events in Aotearoa?
Around 1 in every 14,000 people in NZ die in a car accident each year. Compare that to 1 in 2,923 who have died worldwide from COVID-19 in that same timespan.
In NZ you have a 1 in 383,838 chance of winning first division lotto with a $7 ticket, and a 1 in 3,838,380 chance of winning the Powerball jackpot with a $15 power dip ticket. Compare that to 1 in every 365 people on Earth who have still experienced symptoms of COVID-19 twelve weeks after infection.
Any logical person would look at the data and not hesitate to get the vaccine. Thankfully most are. At the end of August 2021, 49.3% of New Zealand has received at least one dose and the rollout is continuing full steam ahead.
Unfortunately, some people are unable to receive the vaccine, usually due to underlying health conditions or age.
Then there is a percentage of the population who just don’t want to get vaccinated, for whatever reason. Whilst these people are putting themselves at risk, they are also putting those who can’t get vaccinated at even greater risk. It is selfish. It is frustrating. It is unnecessary. I bet most of these same people wear a seatbelt to protect themselves while driving. Some will even buy a lotto ticket on the off-chance they can enrich themselves on those very slim odds. Even though they may be young, the data suggests those under 45 have a significantly greater chance of dying from COVID-19 than they do of dying in a car crash, winning lotto, or being born in New Zealand.
Approximately 1 in every 2,923 people on Earth died of COVID-19 within the last year. Approximately 1 in every 2,431 babies were born in New Zealand in the last year. Those odds are not too dissimilar in the grand scheme of things, if you were lucky enough to be born in NZ, who says you won’t be so unlucky to die from COVID-19?
Visualisations were created by Scott Willan and Steven Morrison, two of the more visually creative stars here at Optimal BI.
Data was gathered from the following sources: