Bari Weiss: anti-vaxer?

January 22, 2022 • 11:30 am

In this segment of Bill Maher’s show last night, Democratic Congressman Ritchie Torres from New York, Bari Weiss, and Maher discuss Covid-19, with the topic being “whether it’s time to move past Covid restrictions and get back to normal.” Weiss and Maher seem to say “yes,” while Torres urges caution. 

Bari Weiss declares that she’s “had it” with Covid, that masks don’t work, that you can be vaccinated and still get infected with omicron, that lockdowns cause suicide, that few children have died from Covid and that “it’s time to end it”, apparently meaning we no longer need to take precautions against Covid, including getting rid of masks, lockdowns, and vaccinations. She’s arguing, as Torres characterizes her view, that “the response to the disease has been worse than the disease itself.” But have 800,000 Americans committed suicide from Covid-induced depression? No: look at the data from StatNews:

Those of us who posited that suicide rates may actually decline during the pandemic were either dismissed or criticized. But we were right: Provisional data released by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests that for the entire year of 2020 — when most lockdown procedures were put in place, many communities saw their highest rates of Covid-related deaths, and economic uncertainty was at its peak — suicide rates dropped by 3%.

For verification of this, see here and here (the latter is the Suicide Prevention Resource Center, which says that more data should be analyzed when it comes in later).

As for the efficacy of masks, the data summarizing their value can be seen at the CDC website, which actually gives data and doesn’t just say “wear masks”.

The gist of what she says here is that we shouldn’t have done anything about the pandemic. Maybe we would have had 2 millions deaths, but that’s just collateral damage.

Torres makes the point that nearly 100% the people in the hospital with Covid now are unvaccinated. They’re still dying, so how can you claim that vaccines don’t work? (The original clinical trials, of course, confirmed the efficacy of the vaccine.). As reader Paul wrote,

At least on COVID, Bari Weiss seems to have joined the other side. She and Bill seem to believe that the vaccine only protects the recipient against hospitalization and death and doesn’t help them avoid catching and passing on the disease. In general, Weiss seems to be positioning herself as a “media personality” rather than a writer, at least that’s my take.

Not only that, but she’s not even hewing to the data.  She’s come perilously close to being an anti-vaxer, if she isn’t one already.

In Weiss’s case, she hasn’t stayed in her ideological position while the left moved further left. No, she appears to be shifting to the right. I wouldn’t be surprised if eventually she become a never-Trumper Republican. I hope not, but what she had to say in this short segment greatly disheartened me.  And so did Maher’s response.

Weiss, at least, owes America a clarification of what she means when she says, “it’s time to end it.” End WHAT?


161 thoughts on “Bari Weiss: anti-vaxer?

  1. We have over 2000 people succumbing to Covid each day. Someone like Weiss who calls this collateral damage should be cancelled, ignored and ridiculed.

    1. You have lost the forest for the trees. The virus is endemic. The vaccines and masks can’t prevent its spread. Most people get sick and recover nicely. Focus on vaccines for the vulnerable (better than nothing) and therapeutics for those who get very sick.

      1. I’m going to kick you out the door because this is the second time you’re making statements without any data to support it. (The first was that Omicron is no worse than a common cold.)
        I’m sure there are lots of sites that will welcome your insights that can endanger people. .

      2. Jeff – your post captures perfectly the erroneous reasoning so many people espouse. Vaccines and masks do prevent its spread, as numerous epidemiological outcome studies have showed. As important, vaccines prevent severe illness (the unvaccinated are 8x more likely to end up in the hospital; 50x for the elderly).

        So, when you have some free time, go to your local hospital and wait at the employee entrance. When the ICU staff leave, apologize to them profusely for making them suffer needlessly.

        You didn’t get Covid, you say, so you’re not to blame? You were just lucky, and still apart of the problem.

      3. This comment echoes a lot of what I hear on the radio and local FB groups. Two themes: first, vaccines or masks or restrictions or mandates “don’t work” because they don’t “stop the spread”. It’s a complete inability to grasp nuance, or even probabilites: the only options are perfect or worthless.
        Second, the apparent conflation of public health and the practice of medicine: we don’t need vaccines because we have therapeutics. But physicians are not epidemiologists

  2. I watched that last night. Bari and Bill are both suffering from COVID fatigue and have basically given up trying to do anything about it.

    1. It’s one thing to be tired of covid, it’s another to go on national television and tell people that they no longer have to take risks. That’s irresponsible.We’re ALL tired of covid, but if there were an Omicron booster that worked, would you say, “No, I’m done. Not getting it. Neither should you.”

      1. They were practically in the camp of “You can still catch and transmit COVID if you are vaccinated so why bother getting vaccinated?”. That surprised me coming from Maher, who usually seems very grounded in reality and should have stated that being vaccinated greatly lessens the chances of being hospitalized or dying due to COVID.

        1. Maher is a long term anti-vaxxer, so his position is not surprising. One can be right about some things and wrong about others, but for me that is a big negative about him since he has this big tv show platform.

        2. Maher is terrible at understanding anything scientific. And wilfully ignorant, especially when it comes to those lefty domains of nutrition, vaccination and a lot of things associated with modernity.

          1. True; I wrote a piece on his vaccine issues in *2009*. He says he’s not against them, but displays all the symptoms. I diagnose anti-vax.

          2. I remember a year or two ago when Marr sort of announced his position on vaccinations on his show. It was something like “I don’t like it but I suppose that if most of the scientists are telling us this, we should go along with it.” It seemed as if his gut told him that vaccines and masking are worthless but opinion of people he respected was overwhelming so it forced his hand. With a guy with the self-confidence of Marr, it was only a matter of time before his gut started fighting back against accepted wisdom.

          3. He framed as “taking one for society” after he got vaccinated for COVID. But he loves to harp on about the evils of the fat people. He isn’t wrong that obesity is a problem but he obsesses over it and I think he sees people who are overweight as having a character flaw which explains his constant jokes about how far Chris Christie is. With so much to joke about CC this is his go-to.

          4. Yes, Marr seems driven by what he sees as the world (or just fat people) preventing him from living his life as he would prefer. This isn’t too far from what seems to motivate most anti-vaxxers. They resent the imposition on their life style, first by COVID itself and second by the government reaction to it. Trump perfectly characterized that approach with his COVID denialism. It’s just selfish at its heart.

    1. This is what’s happening in British Columbia now as well. No more contact tracing or routine PCR testing. Per the provincial health officer:

      ‘“We cannot eliminate all risk, and I think that’s something we need to understand and accept,” said Provincial Health Officer Bonnie Henry . She added that the province will henceforth be approaching COVID-19 “much more like how we manage influenza.”’

      BC Childrens Hospital has only 11 children in hospital with covid, including one-quarter (or 3) who were hospitalized *for* covid and others who were hospitalized for something else but happened to also test positive for covid (8).

      That proportion is probably similar in adults. There are 130 people in ICU with covid, but our CDC does not break down how many of them tested positive but are in ICU because they of other diseases. Everyone seems to have mild covid symptoms or know lots of other people with mild covid, probably omicron.

      I don’t think these are reasons to abandon safety measures like masks yet, so I agree Weiss is wrong on that. But they do seem like reasons for optimism. SARS-Cov-2 seems to be evolving like other coronaviruses that crossed over into humans over the last 50 years. So I’m not totally on team Weiss but am hopeful.

    2. That can’t possibly be true. Multiple studies have found that 2 doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine have essentially no effect on the risk of symptomatic infection with Omicron. A booster increases effectiveness up to about 80%, but it declines to around 30% within a couple months. Moderna does somewhat better. Presumably, any symptomatic case can transmit the virus, so effectiveness against transmission is also poor.

      Vaccination, especially with a booster, protects well against hospitalization, severe disease, and death, but with Omicron is not very effective against symptomatic infection.

  3. The claim that the vaccines don’t prevent Covid infection has been a puzzle, since its clear they do help to prevent it. I kept running into this claim on a different web site that I hang out in, and I don’t know where it comes from.

    1. It’s a bit akin to the notion that, well, since it’s possible to die in a car accident even IF you’re wearing a seatbelt, why wear a seatbelt. It’s a symptom of innumeracy, specifically regarding basic probability and statistics.

    2. I think it results from people being unable to comprehend probabilities. They confuse the fact that it doesn’t offer 100% protection with it doesn’t really help much at all.

      1. Too many people think in terms of attributes (yes/no, for/against, etc.) whereas most isssues are about variables.

      2. And not understanding population stats. Also no ability at nuance. Sometimes two things can be factually correct yesterday a bad idea.

    3. Just before Ontario abandoned testing all with symptoms or a contact of a case —the standard strategy that gives about 2-10% positivity — on New Year’s Day, the rate of infection per 100,000 vaccinated was higher than the rate per 100,000 unvaccinated. And the rate of rise of the infection in vaccinated was much steeper than in unvaxxed. At that time the unvaccinated were being barred from indoor gathering places so had less opportunity to spread. (Now all non-essential indoor venues are closed again till 31 Jan.). Masks are worn everywhere indoors, mostly cosmetic cloth or blue surgical masks, rare N95s. (This from Ontario’s Covid-19 data page. They are now downplaying infection rates as meaningless because case numbers are known to be gross underestimates.)

      So since we already know a breakthrough infection in a vaccinated person seems to be just as contagious as a natural infection in the unvaxxed, and vaccinated seem to be not less likely to get infected in the first place, the assertion that vaccination doesn’t prevent spread is supported by evidence. The authors of the vaccine trials testing efficacy against the Wuhan strain warned us of this a year ago.

      Vaccination is prudent to keep yourself out of the ICU—even the occasional lean healthy 35-year-old gets critically ill—and shabby worn-out single-payer systems need to enforce compliance as a public good to prevent their being overwhelmed. But vaccination is not going to end the pandemic by shutting down transmission and I doubt many healthy people under 80 will bother with a fourth dose if that is the only selling point.

      1. We are seeing the exact same thing here in BC. You can check the latest data here: Now here in Canada we are almost completely omicron (delta still persists in much of europe). The gist of it is, that being double vaccinated really isn’t preventing spread. And even the hospitalization rate of vaxxed vs non vaxxed is dropping (after adjusting for age the rates are 17.7 per 100k vaxxed vs 78.6 per 100k unvaxxed, this ratio used to be 30 with delta, now its 4.4!!). I am fully vaxxed, had the booster and still had a very mild case of omicron and almost everyone I know (most are vaxxed) has had the cron in the last few weeks. According to our health minister we peaked around the first week of Jan and we have been seeing decreasing cases since then. I think we will be in the
        endemic stage by the end of Feb.

      2. I am struggling with parsing this. Some information here says that being vaccinated does not protect you from infection. But therein are clues that vaccinated people are the ones allowed in large public gatherings, so of course they are seen to have high rates of infection. Not surprisingly, a vaccinated person with a break-thru infection can still spread it.
        Masks also help prevent infection, but mainly if its a properly fitted N95 or similar.
        There are too damn many variables to follow!

        1. I would like to see a matrix of transmission. Double vaccinated to double vaccinated. Triple vaccinated to triple vaccinated, double to triple. Are there data showing the effectiveness of a triple vaccinated person passing the virus to another triple vaccinated person? I think data is not very rich in these areas which leads to speculation and the tendency to cherry pick information to suit various ideas.

          1. I’m optimistic that the academics will get around to that in late 2022 or 2023 if anyone still cares. Meanwhile public health has to make decisions in real time based on the incomplete and obviously self-selected —how could they be otherwise?—results from people who come for testing. Public Health was stunned by the 10-fold rise in daily cases between early December and New Year’s Day and on seeing that double vaccination did not seem to prevent those infections decided to partially lock down and close schools again while they gave more third doses and put more HEPA filters in classrooms. They could not be sure then that nearly all the infections in vaxxed would be mild—it turns out most are. The ones needing ventilation are nearly all unvaxxed.

            We have no idea now what our daily case counts are in Ontario. All we know is that hospital and ICU census is no longer rising so we are probably out of the woods. That’s as good as it gets. All of a sudden, almost everyone seems to have had symptoms consistent with Omicron, including me. That’s exponential growth.

            I’m staying away from arguments about whether vaccines save lives—of course they do. The question here was whether you can rely on vaccination to prevent infection and you cannot, not with Omicron. This was true in UK and those EU countries where Omicron has showed up. Vaccination proponents might think that vaccination is one’s duty to prevent transmission to others who might get sick. That will not work with Omicron. The duty to be vaccinated is to avoid being yourself a cause of swamping your ICUs. (Ontario’s median length of stay in ICU with Delta was 60 days. Terrible disease.)

            No more from me.

        2. Well, that is the difficulty in determining if vaccination reduces spread: it’s all based on observation, not experimental trials. You can’t ethically (or legally) deliberately try to infect vaccinated vs unvaccinated people and then instruct them all to do their best to try to secondarily infect strangers and count the new cases each group leaves in its wake. Tying a secondary case back to your study subject would be impossible anyway.

          But remember the whole rationale for vaccination certificates was that masked vaccinated people would be able to congregate inside without leading to huge jumps in cases, which is not what we saw once Omicron took hold. Ontario does break down case rates by vaccination status according to age brackets but these results are several weeks behind and are now irrelevant because testing was severely truncated. All those venues were then closed after 30 seconds of thought self-admitted by the Premier.

      3. “.. the rate of infection per 100,000 vaccinated was higher than the rate per 100,000 unvaccinated ..”

        ‘Rate of infection’ here is in every case extremely unreliable, especially when it involves self-reporting, so there is likely little real evidence of that. So I won’t bother to ask where those stats came from.

        It seems to me, without systematic study at all, that the rate of death (quite apart from very serious and /or long-lasting illness) is vastly higher in the unvaccinated than the vaccinated, giving an obvious, sort of self-centred, reason to get oneself vaccinated. And the unreliability above surely makes anyone who has no reasonable reason to have avoided vaccination into a selfish ass IMO, by ignoring the obviously possible social reason of making it less likely that one infects and subsequently kills someone else.

          1. For sure.

            A very simple example is some anti-vacc ranting bonehead who gets a slight case of covid, not needing the hospital. I can hardly imagine any person like that reporting to anyone about it.

            So the 100,000 of vacced and the 100,000 of nonvacced each have around 400 cases of reported infections. But the actual numbers of cases are more like 500 and 2,500 respectively, with 2100 claiming to their friends they caught a cold, not that they ordered a cheap meal because they couldn’t taste anything anyway (and some came within a whisker of actually going to the hospital a few days later!)

  4. I used to find Maher mildly amusing, but I’m done with him. He wants to pretend that the pandemic is over because he wants to return to doing in-person shows. He’s arrogant and self-centered, and it comes across in his monologue screeds.

    The argument that kids don’t suffer from covid ignores the fact that a few do, but more importantly they spread it to adults. There are plenty of cases where entire families are infected because the kids brought it home from school.

    1. “There are plenty of cases where entire families are infected because the kids brought it home from school.”

      True. Perhaps it’s also true-enough that some bring it from home to school. It’s not the adults at school that have to be frequently reminded to properly wear their masks.

  5. Do we really need to choose between the two extremes of draconian measures such as masking toddlers, closing schools, mandated vaccines or its opposite let it rip, no precautions?

    1. Mandated vaccines as Draconian?? We shouldn’t need that, but given that a third of Americans are idiots and won’t eagerly line up for safe and effective vaccines, there’s no alternative since they endanger themselves and those around them, and prolong the pandemic.
      And for those who won’t get vaccinated, please walk to your nearest hospital, and when they ICU staff leaves the building, apologize profusely for making them unnecessarily suffer. And yes, even if you didn’t get covid. You were just lucky.

      1. I agree that getting vaccinated is a sensible choice and I have had the 3 shots. But why should people who already had Covid get the vaccine? They have natural immunity. How about healthy young men who have slight risk of myocarditis and an even smaller chance of dying for COVID?

        1. Immunity after natural infection is vastly improved by vaccination. It should not be hard for you to find those stats. Also, the risk of dying from a second round of COVID while still unvaccinated is greatly increased. And as I understand it, myocarditis is generally transient and easily treated.

        2. 1). We don’t know if an infection with Covid is as good at keeping you out of the ICU as 3 vaccine doses, or lasts as long in the face of variants.

          2). Since no one dies of vaccine myocarditis, it cannot be true that the risk of dying from Covid is smaller. But if a young man felt that way, he could choose not to be vaccinated and accept that he could not be admitted to restaurants, concert venues, or sports stadiums, and pay the tax that some jurisdictions are planning to impose on that decision, to help finance his care if he called his odds wrong.

          1. In NZ we have had two young men die after vaccinating with myocarditis complications I don’t know about the first case but the second was because he ignored the symptoms.

        3. Natural immunity doesn’t last very long…there is a Yale study documenting this.

          My parents didn’t get vaccinated because they’re Trumpers and both have contracted Covid twice. I guess they’re ok with getting it a couple times a year for the rest of their lives. They’re both in their 70’s, so I look at it a little like Russian roulette. But I’ve stopped talking to them about Covid facts and my concerns because you can’t argue with the happily ignorant.

        4. Thank you for being vaccinated. But I don’t understand these points of view, or similar points of view that one has a right to not be vaccinated or not wear masks. The measures are for the greater good.
          Help humanity and don’t help the virus. Slow the spread. Give swamped hospitals a break. Give traumatized hospital workers reason to hope and reason to maybe come back to work (as so many have quit). The same goes for those who work in stores and are constantly exposed to strangers. And don’t get me started on speaking out for teachers who don’t want Covid to spread to their family, and those who must have contact with the elderly.
          There are many mandates that we accept more widely. Wear seat belts. Watch the speed limit. Don’t smoke in public places. There are already several other vaccine mandates for most lines of work and for public schools.

          1. I do not understand either. A local oncologist’s office (a place where people go for chemo therapy which compromises their immune systems) requires everyone wear a mask. Sensible. Unfortunately some individuals became quite irate, aggressive and abusive to staff who refused entry to the unmasked. I’m sure all of us have been thoughtless at one time or another, but typically when this is pointed out, we rectify our behavior and apologize. The unmaskers could not bridge the gap between “I have rights” and “Oh, I’m putting vulnerable people at risk” and I don’t understand that level of selfishness.

            I guess the abuse of staff escalated from name-calling to actual threats and assault such that the office posted a very large sign — about 3 feet by 6 feet — letting people know abuse would not be tolerated, that police would be called and the office would follow through on filing charges. The sign also reminded people to care about and care for one another.

            As you point out we accept many mandates. I fear that the selfish have become so emboldened that it is only a matter of time before we regress and many sensible mandates fall by the wayside.

      2. I am so offended by and angry at myself for being so Draconian to myself, forcing myself to get vaccinated and wear a mask and to give others some reasonable consideration. Oh for the love of humanity, how so inconvenienced I am.

      3. Yes, mandating vaccines is a draconian government policy. I have both shots and a booster because I evaluated my chance of catching Covid, my chance of being hospitalized, and my chance of the severity of the disease should I catch it against the risks associated with the vaccine. For me, that evaluation resulted in my choice to get the vaccine.

        I do not have the right nor the desire to asses the risk for another person. Using government force to inject another person against their will is immoral.

        This isn’t a situation where every unvaccinated person is Typhoid Mary and the vaccine is 100% effective without risks. I strongly encourage people to get vaccinated, but I draw the line at forcing them.

        1. “Yes, mandating vaccines is a draconian government policy.”

          No it isn’t, and governments have been mandating vaccines since vaccines were first invented. You think that a government trying to keep it’s citizens safe from severe illness or death is harsh or severe? If you went to public school in the US, you were vaccinated by mandate. The government mandates all sorts of things for public safety, and I for one think it’s the government’s job to do so.

          1. The fact that the government does something in one context isn’t a justification for it to do something similar in another context. Government action is often unjustified.
            Since you are the one supporting the use of government force to compel unwilling people to get the Covid vaccine, the burden is on you to justify that use of force. Given that the vaccine significantly reduces the potential harm associated with contracting Covid, it seems difficult to make a case on public safety grounds.
            What numbers do you use to justify a use of force in this case?

          2. The justification is that, if you don’t get vaccinated, you risk not only yourself and health care workers that will likely have to treat you but others that you’ll likely infect. I don’t really understand how that is so hard to see.

          3. That’s the proposed justification, but does it stand up to scrutiny? To determine if it does, there are a number of questions that need to be answered, including:
            * How much does the vaccine reduce the chance of someone infecting someone else? It’s been shown that vaccinated people can still infect others.
            * How much does the vaccine reduce the odds of being infected, both by other vaccinated people and the unvaccinated?
            * How much does the vaccine reduce the risks associated with contracting the virus? It seems to improve outcomes significantly.
            * What is the risk of getting the vaccine? This is dependent on several demographic factors as well as comorbidities.
            Those supporting a government mandate to get vaccinated are advocating the use of force against people who have committed no crime. In order to justify that, you need more than vague assertions of risk. What, exactly, are the risks on each side of the equation and do they support denying others their bodily autonomy?

          4. All these questions are answered by the data which is freely available online. Your asking them again here is disingenuous and carries no weight with me. It’s the popular ploy called “Just asking questions”.

          5. “Those supporting a government mandate to get vaccinated are advocating the use of force against people who have committed no crime.”

            You keep saying that. It isn’t true.

          6. “Using government force to inject another person against their will is immoral.”

            Patrick…where have you seen anyone saying that anyone should be forcibly vaccinated? All I’ve seen is situations where if you’re NOT vaccinated, you’re barred from certain activities or locations. Have I missed something?

            I’m guessing that you’re familiar with SCOTUS Robert Jackson’s oft-cited quote from Terminiello v. Chicago, 337 U.S. 1 (1949): “There is danger that, if the Court does not temper its doctrine logic with a little practical wisdom, it will convert the constitutional Bill of Rights into a suicide pact.”

            I’ll put my libertarian bona fides up against anyone’s. (Certainly Bill Maher’s.) But it’s a grey area, isn’t it? How do you feel about forcible detention and treatment of active TB cases? How about Ebola? And those haven’t take NEARLY the toll of Covid, at 800K deaths and counting.

            Covid vaccination as presenting some sort of liberty issue? THIS libertarian is baffled.

          7. “…where have you seen anyone saying that anyone should be forcibly vaccinated?”

            The comment from KD33 above advocates exactly that, with the ostensible justification that “given that a third of Americans are idiots and won’t eagerly line up for safe and effective vaccines, there’s no alternative….”

            I have absolutely no issue with private businesses deciding not to serve the unvaccinated. I strongly encourage everyone without a medical risk to get the vaccines and boosters. Where I draw the line is the use of force by the government to require unwilling people to be vaccinated.

          8. It is easy to “draw the line” there but what do you do when so many in a country refuse to get vaccinated even though it has been shown many times that the risk of side-effects from the vaccination is far, far lower than the risk from catching the disease if you remain unvaccinated? Are you suggesting that we just have to ignore it? The fact is that the country as a whole will not do well against this disease if too many citizens remain unvaccinated. Do we just have to shut up and accept it?

          9. Yeah well all people arguing this are really fighting a straw man. Liberal democracies that tried typically would have constitutional challenges. We don’t do that. No one in a liberal democracy has but we will, to use the phrase of Macron “emmerder”.

          10. Quoting Paul since there’s no reply option:
            “It is easy to “draw the line” there but what do you do when so many in a country refuse to get vaccinated even though it has been shown many times that the risk of side-effects from the vaccination is far, far lower than the risk from catching the disease if you remain unvaccinated? Are you suggesting that we just have to ignore it? The fact is that the country as a whole will not do well against this disease if too many citizens remain unvaccinated. Do we just have to shut up and accept it?”

            I agree with you about the risks, which is why I have both shots and the booster. I am willing to try to convince people to get the vaccine. I argue with a lot of anti-mandate people who have drifted into anti-vax territory.

            I am unwilling to use force, or ask the government to use force, when voluntary approaches don’t work. In my view, that’s the consistent, principled, classical liberal position.

            To directly answer your question, we need to use non-coercive means to convince people to voluntarily vaccinate. Please note that using government force to prevent unvaccinated people from working or to prevent private companies from choosing to serve them is not non-coercive.

            Finally, it’s important to recognize that both vaccinated and unvaccinated people can contract and transmit the virus. This paper in The Lancet from October documents the difference between the two groups with respect to the Delta variant: Their discussion section includes “In our cohort of densely sampled household contacts exposed to the delta variant, SAR was 38% in unvaccinated contacts and 25% in fully vaccinated contacts.” So the vaccinated are somewhat less likely to infect others, but the difference isn’t as stark as some people portray it.

          11. I think the convincing has been tried and hasn’t worked. Your approach is to basically say that if the populace doesn’t want to get vaccinated then everyone has to suffer. I don’t accept that. As to your claim that your position is the “consistent, principled, classical liberal position”, I would suggest it is more the libertarian position, the every-man-for-himself position.

          12. I agree. It shouldn’t be an individual decision. Whenever someone leaves their house and go out in public, they have a responsibility to not infect others. The right not to be infected trumps the supposed right not to get vaccinated.

        2. If you are going to say a public health policy or other coercive government action is immoral, I think you have to specify the moral framework under which you make that judgment. Otherwise it’s just your personal opinion or taste and need not be argued with when you are compelled to comply.

          1. All morality is subjective, hence “personal opinion or taste.” In this case, and many other cases of government coercion, for me it comes down to which way the gun is pointing. If the police are arresting someone committing armed robbery, they are acting morally. If they’re forcing an otherwise peaceful person to get vaccinated against that person’s will, then the gun is being used immorally.
            How do you justify the use of force in this situation? Have you considered non-coercive approaches? In my opinion, those are greatly to be preferred.

        3. What do you mean by “use of force”, Patrick? Is disallowing travel on airlines without vaccination records a matter of force? The phrase seems mis-applied. Vaccine mandates, as they have been articulated in the US, are not “force” matters. If someone refuses to get vaccinated they simply give up the right to participate in social activities where public health is at stake. Or they get tested regularly. I’m long through worrying about the feelings of vaccine refusers who want the selfish/stupid option without carrying the costs of their refusal. If they got sick and didn’t show up expecting treatment at overburdened hospitals I would have a small amount of sympathy. But they don’t keep their refusal to themselves.

          1. Indeed. The refusers who suck resources from the rest of the population when they get sick as well. The ones that clog up hospitals, wear down front line workers and cause people with serious illnesses (joint replacement surgeries, heart surgeries, cancer surgeries) to be delayed to the point of death.

          2. I just noted in a reply above that I support the choice of any private business to deny service to the unvaccinated. If the government is mandating that a particular business do so, that’s no longer a voluntary choice.

            If a restaurant boldly proclaims “We serve the unvaccinated!” I will happy patronize another establishment. I will not point a gun at them, even by proxy, and demand they accede to my preferred risk profile.

          3. You keep ignoring the fact that all suggested mandates in the US provide the option of regular testing. That’s not “forced” in any reasonable sense.

          4. It seems to me that you prefer the ambulance to be at the bottom of the cliff.
            When you are not picking up the pieces that’s easy and ‘edging’ toward irresponsibility.
            If there is any force its looking out for one another.

        4. And that’s why no one is injected against their will. However, they should have their ability to catch the disease and transmit it (thereby cook new variants the vaccinated may catch) curbed. It’s fine not to be vaccinated but you must then not participate in public life. Public life has a price. That price is not harming those you ar route in public with.

        5. I agree completely. As a constitutional issue, the government needs a very compelling interest in order to mandate vaccines or other medical interventions. The Supreme Court has rightly not upheld the executive order to use OSHA to enforce vaccine mandates.

          As a public health policy, persuasion would likely be more effective than mandates and it would certainly be more compassionate.

  6. It’s been quite painful to see so many otherwise apparently rational people blow up in the face of covid. Just stating things that are demonstrably wrong.

  7. I have developed a stock reply too, “I’m over this “ or “I’m moving past it”.

    “It’s a virus and it doesn’t care, it’s not moving past you”

    1. I was very disappointed in Weiss talking about how she is so over this virus.
      She’s done dealing with it.
      We all are, but it is not over with us just because we are tired of it.

    2. So true, WDB. My friend Brent puts it like this (at the time he was referring to people who didn’t want to “choose a side” in debates over climate change, but it works the same here): “Just because you don’t have a dog in the fight doesn’t mean you don’t have skin in the game.”

    3. I like to say “I’m over this rain, I’m not using my umbrella anymore”. Yeah, that isn’t going to mean you won’t get wet.

  8. All of these self appointed gurus are part of the other pandemic of irrationality that has infected left, right, center and pseudo libertarians in this country, plus ignorance of evolution and statistics. It is like the guy falling from the top of the Empire State Bldg and shouting, as he passes the 80th floor, “so far so good”. These fuzzy thinkers are part of the fake news infection while they pretend to be practical and logical, thus increasing the feeding frenzy of doubters, deniers and leftist haters of Big Pharma.
    They are all acting irresponsibly in the extreme, just as Bret and Heather did. Any one reading the comments on the blogs of these people will readily see the mob mentality that uses the fake excuses of “liberty” and “personal freedom” as excuses for their scientific ignorance. No wonder people are calling for internet censorship! The public is being scammed by those who pretend to be informed
    citizens but whose secret agenda has nothing to do with reality, reason, logic or facts. Weiss and Maher are just reflections from the pond of irrationality that is swallowing us, at a time when it is
    ONLY rationality and impartial research that can save us. And the pool of potential victims is large.

  9. We’re all very tired of Covid…especially those of us who have had it, battled for our lives to not succumb to it, and spent a year and a half recovering from all the damage it did. I get vaccinated whenever needed because I don’t want to risk another infection from a variant and possibly not survive the next battle. I loved Meatloaf’s music and was disappointed to learn that he died of Covid because he’d rather die than be controlled. If someone puts a gun to your head and demands you give him your wallet, would you still rather die than be controlled? To me this is stupidity, not bravery.

    1. I agree, no one can tell the story better than someone who has had covid and experienced something that others can only wonder about. I had it just about a year ago and spent most of Jan. 21 in a recovering mode. Two days in the hospital, I think ICU although I never had the oxygen problem. Soon as I could, I got two shots and the booster. If they come out with another one I would be first in line. When you hear about these people like Meatloaf, what can you say. Having crazy ideas can and does kill you. I will take science every time. There is no evidence to do otherwise.

      1. Sorry that Covid hit you hard too, Randall. A friend of mine who didn’t believe in vaccines almost died from Covid. It changed her mind about the virus after a couple of weeks in the hospital. It’s too bad that people have to learn the hard way instead of heeding sound advice from those who have had direct experience with it.

        1. The cost is always overlooked. My three days, two nights in the hospital was just over $11,000 paid by medicare. I had to pay the doctor’s bills.

  10. I wish people would distinguish between those who are against ALL vaccines (I’m not) and those who worry about this particular one – anti-Covid-19. Such confusion doesn’t help clarity.

    1. There are a lot like you. Often, they have an idealized view of earlier vaccines. I can understand a hesitancy versus Adenovirus and mRNA Covid vaccines, as both vaccination platforms are relatively new, and Coronavirus vaccination as such is new. But since 2020, a lot of data has accrued and with all of the attention these vaccines are getting, they are now among the better known and tested of all vaccines, and the benefit-risk ratio for the demographics over (say) 20 clearly shows them to be superior to no vaccine. Note this was less clear in the case of oral Polio vaccinations in the 1970s or smallpox vaccination in the 1960s: Both had a not negligible number of serious debilitating side effects and were still administered universally at a time when infection risk was already next to nil (thanks to the vaccines!). Also, different from what many today think, both the oral Polio and the smallpox vaccine were very far from 100 % effective and the smallpox vaccine waned pretty quickly with time.
      Because there was higher conformity and fewer doubters in those days, we eradicated Polio and smallpox in the industrialized countries with universal vaccine coverage. Nigeria and Pakistan still have polio because so many doubters now refuse the vaccines that for many years were given to every schoolchild elsewhere in the world.

      1. Polio in Nigeria and Pakistan is due to Boko Haram and the Taliban murdering village vaccinators in the remote tribal districts for some religious reason or other. Heaven help Afghanistan.

    2. Since mRNA vaccines degrade in the body faster than “traditional” vaccines, the probability is that they are actually safer than those older vaccines. And those older vaccines were themselves very unlikely to have undetected long-term side effects – per the link below: “In virtually all cases, vaccine side effects are seen within the first two months after rollout.”

  11. I would not be upset if she becomes a never-Trump Republican. She may already be there. My fear is that she may become a true Trumpist, as James Lindsay, under the rationale that the Woke represent a greater threat to the country than those that stormed the Capitol and those that worship as members of the cult of Trump.

    1. I agree. Becoming a Never Trumper isn’t so bad. I suppose we counted Bari Weiss as a Leftie. Since Never Trumper is a label used for Righties, this would mean she’s gone Right. I don’t know if she has. She might simply be like Bill Marr, left of center and poorly informed on vaccinations.

    2. Weiss has courageously brought some important issues to the fore for examination since leaving the New York Times.

      But a while back, I decided she had “jumped the shark.” I’d long refused to read the comments from her (many!) unhinged readers and listeners, and I suspect what’s happened is a vivid example of “audience capture.”

  12. Repost: wordpress binned the previous post, probably due to youtube share link.

    Here’s what she says, mostly verbatim.

    “And then we were told, you get the vaccine, and you get back to normal. And—we haven’t gotten back to normal. It’s ridiculous at this point. [… the data allegely says] Cloth masks do not do anything [you can be vaccinated, showing document on entry, but still infect others, but most important thing is] This is going to be remembered by the younger generation as a catastrophic moral crime. The city of Flint, Michigan, with I think is 80% minority students, announced indefinite virtual schooling. [Then cites self-harm and suicide stats] That’s why we need to end it”

    From this it’s clear that it’s the closing bracket. The “end it” means “getting back to normal” with the ending referring to measures she lists in between, such as lockdowns (self-harm and suicide bits), virtual schooling (in Flint), showing vaccine passports, and wearing masks (both allegedly ineffectual anyway). When you are charitable, she assumes that people getting vaccinated is the precondition to getting back to normal, but that this latter part of the promise was not fulfilled yet.

    I would not outright say she’s an anti-vaxer just yet with this bit, and I have been highly critical of her work, which I see located in the blurry territory somewhere between New Right, neo-con, and paleo-libertarian. She’s clearly right wing. In the 2020s it’s no longer enough to be vaguely LGTB+, or Jewish to be tagged centre or left.

    I find her choice of Flint, Michigan right after “catastrophic moral crime” interesting. She doesn’t mean giving poisonous, legionella, and lead-infused water to its population, causing severe sickness to its population and persistently covering it up, while nobody is seriously held accountable*. That’s not “catastrophic moral crime” here, but, according to her virtual schooling. She’s either a troll or out of her mind.

    * Just Fresh in: “How Politicians and Banks Got Away with POISONING Flint w/ Jordan Chariton” Bad Faith podcast/youtube, Jan 21, 2022 youtube: watch?v=uAd0L-ILAp4

  13. I’m vastly more tired of antivaxxers than the virus. And for someone like me who spent his career in the biomedical arena, it’s quite gratifying to see how techniques that I’m familiar with all coalesced to yield the vaccines in short order, and even yield a new approach to vaccines in general with RNA.

    You might expect to find some gratitude that the timing of the virus was just in time for the required technology to be available to counter it. If it had come even five years earlier, the elements would not have all been in place to meet it.

    1. Yes, it’s a head-shaking shame that people don’t realize how incredibly lucky we are to get the mRNA vaccines just when they were needed.

      To those who claim that they’re “over it”, they have no idea how much worse this would be without the vaccines. I have no patience for Maher or Weiss.

    2. Yes gratitude for the tech for sure! And the fact that it worked so well! People are so spoiled and entitled that if the vaccine doesn’t just get us right back to normal it’s crap. Really it’s the people refusing the vaccine that are driving this virus. If everyone in rich countries was vaccinated as soon as possible, we’d have the rest of the world well vaccinated as well and variants would be less of a concern.

  14. A lot of people seem to expect vaccines to completely prevent them from catching the target disease. Many vaccines work that way simply because the target disease isn’t endemic. Kids who get the polio vaccine can expect to live their entire lives polio-free. Of course, that doesn’t mean that the polio vaccine is 100% effective against polio (I don’t know if it is). After all, I suspect that hardly anyone in a rich country is ever exposed to polio.

    When these people hear that one can be vaxxed and boosted against COVID and still catch it and pass it on, they feel betrayed by the medical community (or Dr. Fauci personally). They don’t seem to understand that their chances of catching it are greatly reduced. They do understand that they are protected against hospitalization and death but even that’s not 100%.

    Among those who aren’t against the vaccine for political reasons, most of the confusion comes from an insufficient mental model of infectious disease and vaccines. Many on the Right accuse the Democrats of suggesting that people should blindly follow the advice of the CDC and other medical professionals. If they aren’t going to learn more of the science, that’s a good idea.

  15. I generally enjoy watching Real Time simply because they do have discussions and I appreciate hearing what people have to say.

    That being said, I was greatly disheartened by last night’s discussion. All Weiss and Mayer wanted to do was bash those people who encouraged mask wearing, reduced social contacts and vaccination. Never did they call out those who refused to get vaccinated and now are clogging our hospitals and straining our entire health care system. [Note: until that crisis is resolved you can wish the pandemic over all you want, but it won’t be so.] If everyone had embraced vaccination then thing thing would probably be over by now.

    I think we can add Weiss to a lengthening list of liberal minded folks who have realized there is more money to be made bashing wokeness than addressing threats to our democracy.

  16. You could make a rhetorical case that the suicide rate actually went up, due to so many Covid deaths being the result of willful disregard for self-preservation.

  17. This seems to be a common problem with center-right folks like Bari: Going from doubting the authorities (which is valid enough given the miss-steps in dealing with the pandemic from health authorities) to “doing your own research” and thereby falling for the lies and miss-interpretations of the science from the anti-vax crowd. Seems Bari and to a lesser extent Maher are falling into that trap. I generally agree with Bari on the problem of Wokeness run amok, but on the conflation of public health measures with human rights violations, she and others are wrong. Unfortunately, being wrong in that way is a clear and present danger to Public Health.

    1. Bari Weiss is typical of a well educated and intelligent person that lacks science literacy. She demonstrated by her remarks that she doesn’t know how covid is transmitted, doesn’t understand why we should not transmit it or catch it because of new variants. Our education systems need to do better to equip people to understand basic science and basic history. I really believe our drift from basic education and our focus on a money making career has robbed us of our ability to exist well as a civilization. When you don’t understand history, you see people thinking the Classics are racist, when you don’t understand science, you see people thinking it’s ok to catch a deadly virus.

      1. You’re right. Too many people think of higher education in particular as nothing more than an advanced vocational school. Liberal arts has a purpose — it is the glue that holds society together.

  18. “End WHAT?”

    The answer would appear to be: ‘End the lives of a whole bunch more elderly and/or chronically unhealthy people.’ She’s an ass–maybe not full stop there.

  19. To be fair to Ms. Weiss, she said that cloth masks don’t work, which reflects the studies I’ve read. I also didn’t hear her say that vaccinations should be eliminated, but it would be helpful to hear her clarify her exact positions.

    1. Cloth masks are better than no masks and so what? We now know Covid airborne (vs droplets) and cloth masks should be replaced with better ones. It seems to me her comment, especially when followed up with remarks from her and Maher calling masks “face diapers” and suggesting those who wear them should “hide inside” suggests that we should just not bother with masks at all. This is just not backed up with evidence and is a “gotcha” type argument that doesn’t recognize that we know a lot more about the pandemic now than we did at the beginning, that PPE is available and that masks actually stop us from locking down completely (vs at the beginning of the pandemic). It’s a false choice she presents. There is no pre pandemic to go back to right now. The choice is to wear masks and take other health measures and reduce risk or increase transmission and the production of variables and all that entails.

  20. ” She and Bill seem to believe that the vaccine only protects the recipient against hospitalization and death and doesn’t help them avoid catching and passing on the disease.”

    I am triply vaccinated, and I don’t see what is wrong with this statement. How is that the other side? Is this not just the side that is factually accurate?

    1. I think it’s not exactly known that that is the case all the time. However, I think also it was said to suggest that the vaccine isn’t good enough because we aren’t back to normal so why bother with anything anymore? A sort of “perfect is the enemy of the good” statement.

          1. I think the misunderstanding lies in “prevent”. Vaccines greatly reduce the risk of infection, and greatly reduce the severity of the disease but indeed it does not prevent it altogether.

          2. Omricron spreads like wildfire. Vaccinated and boosted people in my life are catching it every week. To say that being vaccinated is ‘greatly’ reducing the risk of infection is silly. All you have to do is look around to see how silly that is, freaking everyone is getting covid

          3. Once again we have a first-time commenter who doesn’t know what they’re talking about. Are you counting your anecdotes as data? I haven’t freaking gotten covid nor have any of my friends.

            But we don’t need anecdotes: why don’t you look at the data showing the relative chance of getting infected if you’re vaccinated versus unvaccinated.

            Here: I’ll do the work for you:

            See the difference? If you want help reading graphs, look at the widdle blue lines on both graphs (vaccinated) versus the BIG MEAN BLACK LINE (unvaccinated). For the unvaccinated, If you’re unvaccinated you have either a fourfold or a thirteen fold higher chance of getting Covid, depending on whether you’re compared to doubly vaccinated people or triply vaccinated people. I’d say that fourfold and thirteen fold differences are substantial You imply there’s hardly any difference.

            Sorry, I don’t like ignorant people on this website, particularly when their misinformation is dangerous.

  21. This was almost half an hour of the whole one hour show: Weiss and Maher ranting about how the restrictions are stupid. I was yelling at the TV and once gave the finger to them when Maher went on about how the privileged survived the pandemic going to Zoom meetings while the working class had to do the dangerous jobs. Please, I’m from the working class unlike Maher and Weiss. I know this is the deal with the working class. The pandemic didn’t cause this and frankly it’s pretty rich hearing the two of them point this out given they were born into the middle class and have very privileged lived, while we working via a zoom are demonized. I’ve lost a lot of respect for Bari Weiss after this exchange with Maher.

  22. She even had a covid party with covid positive people on New Year’s Eve.

    “But two weeks and some 650 days into “flattening the curve,” I’m done. I don’t care what cable news is blaring on about these days: In this house, Covid is over. On New Year’s Eve, do you know who we hosted? Two beloved friends who were positive for Omicron and stuck at home alone with mild colds. I feel great about that decision. (And I’m still negative.)”

    1. Frankly, I’m more and more on the side of Weiss. I’m vaxxed and boosted, and contracted COVID 2 weeks ago. For me, it was a moderately annoying cold.

      Not to downplay all the deaths, but the incredibly rapid spread of Omicron convinces me that interventions such as lockdowns and cloth masks do not work (or rather, the cost exceeds the benefit). The only randomized trial of masking that I know of is the Abaluck Bangladesh study, which showed that cloth masks don’t significantly reduce symptomatic infection (control 0.67% vs masked 0.61%). (N95 masks weren’t that impressive either.)

      Once the Omicron surge decreases, it’s time to call this thing endemic and return society to relative normalcy. Going forward, we need to focus on interventions that actually work: vaccination, masking only for high-risk people and healthcare workers, improving building ventilation, promoting exercise and maintaining a healthy BMI, and most importantly, shutting down the horrific Asian wildlife markets that caused this mess in the first place.

  23. In the UK, despite the large death toll and 100,000 + covid infections per day, presenters on Talkradio talk about how the pandemic is ‘over’, how masks are useless – one idiot even cut up a mask on air. Anti-vaxxers are as bad as ‘jab enthusiasts’ on this station, as presenters and guests, usually ‘media personalities’ or ‘web influencers’, discuss topics with which they have no understanding or expertise. Here in South Korea (despite a considerable anti-vaxxer contingent online), mask usage is understood to be a reasonable and effective public health measure. People don’t see having to wear a mask in a supermarket as an example of Big Brother stomping its boot down onto its subjects’ faces. And there’s been no lock downs here; life has continued relatively normally

    1. In my experience, in Korea and Japan the use of masks to prevent spread of transmissible respiratory infections was common accepted behaviour well before the Covid-19 pandemic struck.

  24. Bill nor any of his guests mention one of the most important statistics:

    how full are the hospitals and ICUs.

    When hospitals are overwhelmed, taking care of really sick, unvaccinated dopes, they can’t effectively treat all the other sick people that need care. Their resources are all sucked up taking care of the unvaccinated. The burden also contributes to burn out and loss of staff. Other than the death count this is the most important issue epidemiologists are concerned about. Overwhelming the system.

    1. Yes and that has been the primary reason to slow the outbreak here in Ontario. The people criticizing health measures seem oblivious to the fact that most governments now know (thanks mostly to the efforts of vaccine refusers) that they can’t stop the virus but they can slow down a spike long enough to give health care workers breathing room and to make sure not everyone is sick at once so that people who look after things like nuclear plants, food supply, policing, can go to work. This is why the “let it burn” hypothesis is flawed even if we don’t consider the increased success of a new variant because it gets cooked up while it’s burning. In Ontario people have had cancer surgery delayed. And other things and if it keeps up they will be further delayed. This is the knock on effects that cause unnecessary death and frankly I think it’s time to triage the unvaccinated. I know people say it’s unethical but when there are limited resources we really have already decided treating the infected is more important than that family in a car crash or that man with prostate cancer. So I say let’s change our priorities if it happens.

      1. Good point. At the beginning of the pandemic, “flattening the curve” seemed to have become a well understood goal. Now everyone seems to have forgotten about it.

  25. I checked some of Bari Weiss’s statements. Flint, MI has gone to ‘virtual instruction’ indefinitely. I found the following statement online…

    “However, data show that virtual learning has come at a steep cost for children. A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study suggests that virtual learning has harmed children’s physical, mental, and emotional health while placing additional stress on parents and driving some to cope by using alcohol and drugs. A McKinsey & Company report claims that the average learning loss for remote learners during the pandemic was 6.8 months. Black students fared much worse with 10.3 months of learning loss, a relevant statistic given that Flint’s school district is 74.2 percent black.”

    1. I may have an unbalanced view of McKinsey—but from someone who worked for them it seems they work for big business entirely, often trying to screw the workers as stealthily as possible, by making layoffs look like it’s not their boss doing it, but rather some outside, impersonal business consultant causing them to lose their jobs. I’d put no faith at all in their statistical ‘facts’, especially not something as loosey-goosey as reported here.

      1. Of course, people have widely varying opinion of McKinsey (and Bain and the rest of the management consulting companies), however that is not really the point at all. There is a broad consensus that remote learning is less effective than in-classroom instruction, particularly for K-12 students, particularly for lower-income students. That makes Bari Weiss’s statement about Flint significant, irrespective of whether McKinsey agrees or disagrees.

        1. But I think the numbers given here are worse than meaningless. The flexibility of children is amazing, given the right circumstances—and the wrong ones is a different question.

          In my pervious, I was referring to a person I know well who worked briefly for that company, not myself in case I wrote confusingly.

  26. I am curious about all these people who have decided that in the face of a world wide viral pandemic, they are going to go with amateur do-it-yourself home medicine, rather than relying on medical professionals. I think, but am not sure, that most of these people do not do this with respect to all the other medical issues out there. That is, they are not doing their own home cardiology, or home urology, or home enterology. They don’t write their own glasses prescriptions either. They have decided to only do their own home version of epidemiology, virology, and immunology with respect to this viral pandemic. If they get sick, however, they will go to the hospitals to get some real medical attention, just like everyone else.

    Bari and Bill are two more people who are bad at it because it is not possible to be good at it without some substantial study and training. The only reason to do it yourself is if you buy into some ridiculous conspiracy theory about the evil CDC, which is obviously not a very good reason. You really don’t get to have your own opinion about it if you are not qualified and don’t know what you are talking about.

  27. No one is forcing anyone to take the vaccine. You do not have the ri FB t to endanger others so kindly excuse yourself from public life. I’d prefer to see waivers signed as well that say in a triage situation if the wilfully unvaccinated end up in hospital they agree others will be treated first. This would only happen in a triage where hospitals are overwhelmed with COVID and would not include the unvaccinated coming in for other emergencies. I think that is fair.

  28. To be fair, neither Bari nor Bill M. are anti-vaxers. Both have taken the Covid-19 shots. However, they are skeptical of the effectiveness of the vaccines and of the public health measures which restrict people’s ability to create superspreader events. The result of amplifying that dangerous skepticism is lower levels of compliance with those measures and therefore more deaths from the pandemic. Diana MacPherson’s comments above are spot on. Too many humanities majors have little or no clue about science or statistics and it shows.

  29. One more thing that stands out is that the “bring back normalcy” folks ignore completely is how nothing is normal in the hospitals. That makes Weiss come across quite dumb. Sure, she can go back partying, and pretend it’s all normal, but what about hospital staff?

    The pointy end of the wedge, where all forces come together is the Hippocratic Oath. This means that the “freedom/normal” people may volunteer to get seriously ill or choose covid suicide, but society can’t let them because of the oath. Hospital staff must take them in, and other people have to wait, and some don’t get the treatment because covidiots jumped the queue, before jumping to the grave.

    If it wasn’t for that, we could simply say: vaccinations are a requirement to get admission to a hospital. No vaccination, and the pallet in a medic tent will do for you. Or you are the first on the triage list. This even seems like a fair solution. But I intensely dislike it, because it opens too many doors of abuse, second-class medicine for some, or hospitals neglecting adequate capacity, to name two. My non-authoritarian solution is that covid deniers refrain from going to the hospital with “sniffles”. But I guess reality can have a sobering effect even on such people.

    1. I’ve also hear people arguing that there is no hospital problem and the issue is people going there for sniffles. My reply is “are you saying doctors are admitting people to hospital and ICU for “sniffles”. What is also flawed in the “get back to normal” crowd is that supply chains are already messed up. When everyone is sick at once it gets hard to run things and that includes waste water management, road management, grocery stores, drugstores, and any other number of essential and nice to have things that keep our society running. Weiss and Maher have a very shallow understanding of how society functions (as do many who take all this for granted).

  30. My broad opinion is that online learning is actually great. If the recipient is already highly motivated and focused. Sadly, that is a rather big ‘if’. Online learning has the huge virtue that you can learn from the best teachers in the world, not just the teacher you happen to have.

    Let me offer a real-world example. Some number of years ago, I was looking for Calculus instruction online. I found ‘Paul’s Notes’ from Lamar University. Who is Paul? I still don’t know. Where/What is Lamar University? I still don’t know. What I did find is that (at least back then), Paul’s Notes were the best I could find (and they were very good).

    Let me offer another real-world example. I struggled to understand sex-linked inheritance in fruit flies. I read through six different explanations and got exactly nowhere. Finally, the seventh website made it clear what was really happening. With traditional instruction either I would have understood my teacher or failed to get it.

    So clearly, there is some upside (see, MindYourDecisions on YouTube, Kahn Academy, 3Blue1Brown, etc.). However, the upside is only for the already motivated and focused. What about the rest? Traditional instruction is somewhat like military boot camp. You have no choices, so you do what you are told to do. Participation is not optional.

    1. Sorry to use you as the guinea pig, Peter. I may have finally, at least temporarily, fixed my WP settings to send me comments and not require me to enter all my info each time. We shall see…
      fwiw I have been very happy with the couple of Coursera Math courses I’ve taken online.

  31. Before labeling Bari Weiss as an anti-vaxxer (she and her wife are vaccinated) and a loon, I strongly suggest listening to the most recent 2 episodes (“The Aftermath” parts 1 & 2) of her podcast, Honestly with Bari Weiss. General suicide rates may have decreased in the last 2 years, but they have risen sharply for kids and vulnerable minorities, such as Native Americans. The world’s richest 10 men have doubled their wealth in 2 years, while that same amount of money has been bled from the lower & middle classes. Amazon is even more powerful now than it was 2 years ago, making Walmart’s decimation of small businesses look quaint in comparison. Children and teens have been put on ice for some of the most important years in their development. At this point, everyone who wants a vaccine has gotten it. The vaccines don’t prevent carrying and transmitting COVID-19. Masks that are worn all day do not prevent catching or transmitting the disease, as almost none of us are able to observe surgeon-level care with them. She’s doing a cost-benefit analysis, which will vary from person to person, but you should at least hear her reasoning before judging.

  32. Calling Bari Weiss an anti-vaxer is an absolutely absurd take and am very surprised you’d do that. She is vaxxed and boosted, and even says so in the Maher discussion. What she is speaking out against is the fact that so many of our current covid policies are no longer sane and doing a lot of damage (especially for kids) when there is very little data supporting their necessity or their efficacy. Is she wrong about that claim? Maybe so, and it’s appropriate to challenge her on those specific claims, but that doesn’t make her an anti-vaxxer!

  33. This just in, a case-control study from the CDC covering the first three weeks of <b<Omicron in the U.S. (to 1 Jan:)
    Accorsi, et al. Association Between 3 Doses [they also looked at 2 doses] of mRNA COVID-19 Vaccine and Symptomatic Infection Caused by the SARS-CoV-2 Omicron and Delta Variants

    I posted about this last night but because it was a guest access link the URL went on for many lines and may have gone to our host’s Spam.
    The above link is still free full text.

    Bottom lines:

    -2 doses of an mRNA vaccine provides minimal protection from symptomatic Omicron infection, and then only if your second dose happened to have come 2-5 months before you got the symptoms that prompted you to get tested.

    -3 doses provided 65% protective efficacy against symptomatic Omicron. Vaccines did much better against Delta but Delta is history, or soon will be.

    Because it’s a case-control study, as many real-life vaccine efficacy studies are, (once the agent is licensed from randomized controlled trials), you have to allow for certain biases that case-control designs are prone to, which the authors discuss. There is a cost to quick studies that help make decisions in real time.
    The design did not look forward at the outcome after a positive test, only backward at whether or not the person with the positive test done for symptoms was vaccinated or not. So this is a test of preventing any lab-confirmed symptomatic infection only.

    Is 65% efficacy good enough? Because clinical outcomes occurring after the test were not assessed, you can’t answer that question for the individual. But for the population, it is easy to show* that if Omicron has an R(0) as low as 4 — estimates range up to 7, up there with mumps — the vaccine uptake fraction needed to arrest disease transmission exceeds 1, which means that even with 100% vaccine uptake, cases will continue to occur among vaccinated subjects until enough natural immunity builds up as a result of those infections, for however long that lasts. There are several other assumptions about this idealized calculation that don’t hold in real life. But even under idealized circumstances, Omicron is here to stay no matter how many people we vaccinate…unless we decide to invent a better vaccine. Present vaccines should keep most of us from serious harm.

    *Vaccine uptake fraction = (1 – 1/R) / E, where E is the efficacy as a proportion, 0.65 in our case.

  34. Folks, I just read my local newspaper headline stating that almost 50% of infections were from vaccinated people. England reports 80% of recent infections age 60 and above were vaccinated. The vaccine does not prevent infection. It may soften effects.

    JAC: This comment is too long and is also wrong about vaccination not preventing infection. I have thus truncated it and banned the purveyor of misinformation about Covid.

  35. Bari Weiss is most definitely NOT an antivaxer, to come to this conclusion means you didn’t watch the entire segment. In fact her point is at this point everyone has had ample opportunity to get vaccinated and if you haven’t it is on you. Now there are people who can’t get vaccinated and some who are immune compromised and it won’t work, but she (and Maher) essentially are correct, at some point we have to acknowledge the diminishing returns of the extreme measures that are still being used with very little effect.

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