Benjamin Mazer in The Atlantic:
The pandemic’s greatest source of danger has transformed from a pathogen into a behavior. Choosing not to get vaccinated against COVID is, right now, a modifiable health risk on par with smoking, which kills more than 400,000 people each year in the United States. Andrew Noymer, a public-health professor at UC Irvine, told me that if COVID continues to account for a few hundred thousand American deaths every year—“a realistic worst-case scenario,” he calls it—that would wipe out all of the life-expectancy gains we’ve accrued from the past two decades’ worth of smoking-prevention efforts.
The COVID vaccines are, without exaggeration, among the safest and most effective therapies in all of modern medicine. An unvaccinated adult is an astonishing 68 times more likely to die from COVID than a boosted one. Yet widespread vaccine hesitancy in the United States has caused more than 163,000 preventable deaths and counting. Because too few people are vaccinated, COVID surges still overwhelm hospitals—interfering with routine medical services and leading to thousands of lives lost from other conditions. If everyone who is eligible were triply vaccinated, our health-care system would be functioning normally again. (We do have other methods of protection—antiviral pills and monoclonal antibodies—but these remain in short supply and often fail to make their way to the highest-risk patients.) Countries such as Denmark and Sweden have already declared themselves broken up with COVID. They are confidently doing so not because the virus is no longer circulating or because they’ve achieved mythical herd immunity from natural infection; they’ve simply inoculated enough people.
We need a nation wide campaign to undo the damage caused by the politicization of the COVID vaccines.