I’ve written before about people’s skewed perceptions of the risks of Covid. Interestingly but perhaps not surprisingly, perceptions are more skewed among Democrats than they are among Republicans.
As recently as September of this year – that is, more than a year and a half into the pandemic – 41% of Democrats said the risk of hospitalisation if you’re not vaccinated is at least 50%! (The true figure is at least ten times lower.)
A new survey reveals another fallacy that’s widespread among Democrats. On 15–16th December, Rasmussen Reports put the following question to a representative sample of Americans:
Which is more effective in preventing COVID-19 — natural immunity from prior infection with the virus, or getting vaccinated against the virus? Or are both natural immunity and vaccination equally effective?
The correct answer, according to the polling company, is that they’re “equally effective”. I’d beg to differ – several studies have found that natural immunity provides more protection. However, the correct answer surely isn’t “getting vaccinated”.
Among Republicans, 43% gave what I regard as the correct answer of “natural immunity”, and only 25% said “getting vaccinated”. Yet among Democrats, a sizeable majority of 61% said “getting vaccinated”, while only 17% said “natural immunity”.
There is one caveat. Some respondents may have interpreted “Which is more effective” to mean “Which is a better way of acquiring immunity to Covid”. And at least for the elderly and clinically vulnerable, the correct answer to this question may well be “getting vaccinated”.
Having said that, the most natural interpretation of “Which is more effective” is clearly the one the polling company intended, namely “Which protects better against infection”.
So, why does such a large percentage of the US population – 41% overall – wrongly believe that vaccines provide more protection than natural immunity?
Well, it’s actually not surprising when you consider how many scientists have denied or downplayed natural immunity to Covid. Recall last year’s John Snow Memorandum, which stated, “there is no evidence for lasting protective immunity to SARS-CoV-2 following natural infection”. (The Memorandum was co-signed by CDC director Rochelle Walensky.)
People can hardly be expected to have accurate beliefs when scientists aren’t giving them accurate information. At this point, a correction is surely in order: ‘We got it wrong: there is evidence for lasting protective immunity following natural infection’.