Numbers count: the risk of a clot

I don’t know if to be amused or exasperated by the hooha regarding the clot-causing danger of the AstraZeneca vaccine. I taught statistics at university, so always look at the numbers. Here is an authoritative article setting out the issues.

In Britain, there were 79 cases of blood clots among over 20 million recipients of the vaccine, and so far no causal link has been established. But even if every one of those 79 copped it from the drug, that’s still only one in 250,000. Would you refuse to cross the road if the chance of being hit by a car was one in 250,000?

In contrast, about one in every 20 deaths worldwide results from an alcohol-related disease, injury, accident, murder, or suicide. I would be rather cautious about crossing that road if I had a 5% chance of being struck.

But humans are not well designed to adapt their emotional reactions to numbers. In Sleeper, Awake, there are one million people. Somebody needs to die before the woman on the top of the “list” is allowed a child. There are only 123 “Sleepers,” people kept in a coma through cryogenic storage. A great and recurring controversy for over 1000 years has been whether to count these 123 as part of the 1 million, or additional to it. The difference is no difference, but as with the vaccine, clots will get upset about anything, never mind the number.

About Dr Bob Rich

I am a professional grandfather. My main motivation is to transform society to create a sustainable world in which my grandchildren and their grandchildren in perpetuity can have a life, and a life worth living. This means reversing environmental idiocy that's now threatening us with extinction, and replacing culture of greed and conflict with one of compassion and cooperation.
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