Maxime’s maxim motivates mockery

Shortly after People’s Party of Canada Leader Maxine Bernier tweeted “Both the vaccinated and unvaccinated can spread the virus” on Dec. 9, a hashtag started making the rounds on Twitter.

Entries at #maximemaxim began with “Both Wayne Gretzky and I can ice skate…” and went on to include such gems as:

– “Both Lewis Hamilton and I can drive a car”; and

– “Both Picasso and I have art works with collage.”

I even took the rare step of adding a tweet of my own to the discussion: “Both Paul McCartney and I can sing” although the unfortunate few who have heard my screechy efforts might call into question the validity of that statement, and it would probably not be McCartney’s pipes they would be questioning.

Elsewhere around the web could be found further fun false equivalencies responding to Bernier’s ill-fated missive. To wit:

– “Both Roger Federer and I can play tennis”; and

– “Both Michel Phelps and I know how to swim.”

Some took a more serious tone, offering such true but incomplete maxims as:

– “Both the drunk and the sober can get into car accidents”; and

– “Both smokers and non-smokers can get lung cancer.”

Globe and Mail columnist Andrew Coyne offered, in a tweet, “Did you know that half the people killed in traffic accidents were wearing their seatbelts? By the logic of the anti-vaxxers, this proves seatbelts don’t save lives.”

The point of all this piling on, one suspects, is that people who are properly processing the available information are getting frustrated with those who aren’t, and whose refusal to do so is prolonging the pandemic.

Bernier’s statement, for example, ignores the obvious reality that, although the vaccinated can indeed spread the virus, they are significantly less prone to do so, in no small part because they are far less likely to get it.

The reality of that statement is evident through simple math (my favourite kind). Even if half of new daily cases of COVID-19 occur in vaccinated individuals, the fact that they make up 80 per cent of the population means they are about four times less likely to catch the virus than the unvaccinated.

Taken a step further we see that about 80 per cent of hospitalizations and deaths occur in the unvaccinated. If both groups make up a similar number of new cases on an ongoing basis, then it stands to reason the unvaccinated are taking a much greater risk than those who take the jab.

According to the Ontario COVID-19 Science Advisory Table, as of Dec. 12, compared with fully vaccinated people, unvaccinated individuals are four times more likely to catch COVID-19, 19 times more likely to be hospitalized and 29 times more likely to be in the ICU due to the disease.

So why aren’t some people getting vaccinated? This should all be pretty straightforward. We have a pandemic sweeping the globe sickening and killing people, but fortunately, the scientific community, gifted with unprecedented levels of funding and intergovernmental cooperation managed to come up with a vaccine that greatly reduces the chance you will get it and die from it, or get it and spread it to a family member or a friend, who might also die from it.

Reasons offered for not getting vaccinated are likewise confounding.

Don’t know what’s in it? Do you know anything about the chemical make-up of any medication your doctor prescribes, or even the Tylenol you take for your headaches?

Worried about severe allergic reactions to the vaccine? The US Centre for Disease Control (CDC) reports approximately two to five people per million vaccinated in the United States have had some sort of anaphylactic reaction.

That’s why you are asked to stay for 15 minutes after vaccination, so you can be observed in the highly unlikely event you have a severe allergic reaction and need immediate treatment.

The CDC also states that reports of death after COVID-19 vaccination are almost non-existent. More than 459 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines were administered in the United States from Dec. 14, 2020, through Nov. 29, 2021.

During this time, the US Vaccine Adverse Event Report System received 10,128 reports of death (0.0022%) among people who received a COVID-19 vaccine, almost none of which resulted in a confirmed report of causality.

The CDC also states clearly that serious side effects that could cause a long-term health problem are extremely unlikely following any vaccination, including COVID-19 vaccination.

Meanwhile, the number of deaths attributed to COVID-19 in the US is approaching 800,000. In Canada, we’re almost at 30,000 deaths.

Vaccinations aren’t perfect. What is?

But its hard to argue, at least rationally, that they aren’t the best tool we have for fighting COVID-19.