General Question

chyna's avatar

Dr. Deborah Birx, coronavirus coordinator at the White House came out last week saying the vaccines were overplayed and didn't work. What do you make of this?

Asked by chyna (51425points) August 2nd, 2022

Dr. Birx statement
I only included one article, but there are many. Why hasn’t anyone come forward to dispute this claim? What does Dr. Fauci think of this? Should there be an investigation or is this fake news either by the news or by Dr. Birx?

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32 Answers

Smashley's avatar

Read what she actually said and get back to us.

chyna's avatar

“I knew these vaccines were not going to protect against infection,” Birx said. “And I think we overplayed the vaccines, and it made people then worry that it’s not going to protect against severe disease and hospitalization. It will. But let’s be very clear: 50% of the people who died from the omicron surge were older, vaccinated.” Dr. Birx.

zenvelo's avatar

She served under Trump, she has no credibility.

Irukandji's avatar

The Washington Examiner is a literal tabloid, and the quote is truncated:

“If you’re across the South and you’re in the middle of this wave, what is going to save you is Paxlovid. But once we get through this wave, during that lull, you should get vaccinated and boosted, because we do believe it will protect you, particularly if you’re over 70. I knew these vaccines were not going to protect against infection. I think we overplayed the vaccines, and it made people then worry that it’s not going to protect against severe disease and hospitalization. It will. But let’s be very clear, 50% of the people who died from the omicron surge were older and vaccinated. Even if you’re vaccinated and boosted, if you’re unvaccinated, right now, the key is testing and Paxlovid. It’s effective, it’s a great antiviral. And really it’s what’s going to save your lives right now if you’re over 70.”

And this is consistent with other statements she has made about the vaccine. It’s not some bombshell or anything. Any expert talking about the vaccine has always made it clear that vaccines—like masks and all other preventative measures—are never 100%. They are risk reduction, not risk elimination. That’s just how reality works. There has been a big effort in certain circles to promote the idea that the vaccine has to be 100% or else it is worthless. And while that’s obviously bad reasoning, it has been catching on. Acting like Birx’s statement is a big deal only plays into that bad reasoning, which is why outlets like the Washington Examiner are pushing it.

Smashley's avatar

Right, she was talking about overplaying vaccine effectiveness. Not misleading or lying, but overplaying. She still thinks you should get vaccinated and that they make you less sick if you do catch Covid.

It was kind of hard not to overplay vaccine effectiveness in the climate of the pandemic. People were desperately looking for the vaccine to make everything better, and making huge assumptions about the nature of immunity. When faced with a commander in chief leading a political assault against the vaccine, it isn’t surprising that the vaccines effects were overstated by those actually trying to do something for public health.

canidmajor's avatar

She has been waffling on statements about all this since the beginning. She is playing too hard to a diverse crowd and trying to please everybody. Her statements were wishy washy all the way through. The OP’s premise is valid. Even if it’s a tabloid, if it is a direct quote, she is once again misleading her audience, and sowing doubt needlessly.

HP's avatar

Washington Examiner? That’s the reason no one bothers to be upset with anything the rag claims “news” or for that matter, truth. Thank @Irukandji for providing the actual quote from the doctor to compare with the blatantly distorted conclusions (spin) editorialzed by the specious rag. If this article is taken from the editorial page, it may be tolerated as opinion——stupid but of course, the usual for the Examiner. To tolerate it as news betrays a pronounced deficit in discernment.

chyna's avatar

Chill out @HP. There are many more articles out there in this. And I asked if it was real or fake.
No wonder people quit asking questions here. Instead of an answer, they get attacked.

JLeslie's avatar

The public just sucks at understanding grey, people want black and white, which I have said regarding covid all along. Most people tend to latch onto small pieces of information and absorb more information that agrees with the initial bit they chose to believe. It’s a cognitive error or bias.

The CDC wanted to push getting vaccinated, and so the messaging was the vaccine is saving lives. The media and government have not done much lately to tell us who exactly is still dying! People are assuming it’s just the unvaccinated.

I was just talking to someone about this last week. I wish we had more information on who is dying, age, underlying condition, and vaccination status. It sounds like Birx has been looking at that data. I told the person I would start monitoring which age groups are seeing deaths each week in my state, but it won’t have the vaccine status for the deaths. Florida still loses about 200 people per week!

For some reason doctors are slow to prescribe Paxlovid in some locations. Maybe now that Biden took it, some doctors might prescribe it more to older patients.

Demosthenes's avatar

@chyna Welcome to my world. :P

HP's avatar

@chyna I did not mean this as an attack on anyone or thing, including the Examiner. I simply request that you read the article and the ACTUAL quote and judge for yourself. As others here will quickly attest, it is but my opinion that the Examiner has the validity as a newspaper of the National Enquirer or the Soap Opera Digest. WHERE you get your news, is DECIDEDLY your business.

chyna's avatar

@JLeslie. I agree about doctors being slow to prescribe Paxlovid. I had covid last month and my doctor didn’t recommend it. I’ve been vaccinated and boostered twice.

janbb's avatar

I called about Paxlovid and the PA wouldn’t prescribe it. She said since I had a mild case, the side effects would be worse than not taking it. I’m glad she didn’t and I am sure my case was milder partly because of the new strain but also because I was vaccinated and double boosted. With the possibility of rebound Covid as well after Paxlovid, I am doubly glad I didn’t need it. They are still discovering things about Paxlovid, understandably. What she did say is that if I got short of breath, I should go to the ER and get monoclonal antibodies.

That article certainly puts a negative slant on the idea of vaccination although I think the writer was giving their own opinion rather than Birx’s necessarily. It is a shame that people will twist it to mean they shouldn’t have gotten vaccinated and give fodder to that side.

JLeslie's avatar

@chyna I know friends of my mom in Maryland were given the drug. Here where I live it seems to be very varied whether it’s prescribed or not. I’m not sure what parameters they are using. A lot of my friends don’t bother to go to the doctor if symptoms are mild.

Regarding the messaging, I was talking to one of my very liberal friends who will blindly follow the CDC and her choice of “news” channels, and during the conversation I mention Florida cases are way up. Her response, “are those people vaccinated?” To that I said, “probably the majority are.” Almost everyone I know who had been sick recently has had at least one boost if not two. She really was feeling safe from getting sick because she is vaccinated. Her county has one of the highest case counts per 100,000, but she’s totally oblivious. It’s not in the news anymore and she “trusts the science.” She isn’t up to date with the science though. She’s in her 70’s and has some health issues.

A lot of people took the line “the vaccinations are a miracle from science” and ran with it. As soon as they got their vaccines they felt safe and done with the idea of covid.

zenvelo's avatar

Since I am high risk because of cardio pulmonary issues, I asked my cardiologist about Paxlovid when I tested positive for covid. There is a negative interaction between Paxlovid and Clopinegrel (Plavax), and both my cardiologist and the neurologist feel my Plavix regimen was more important given how mild my covid symptoms were.

Any senior citizen on a blood thinner would also be told not to take Paxlovid.

chyna's avatar

@zenvelo Thanks for that answer. It’s probably the reason my doctor didn’t prescribe it for me, but didn’t say why.
@JLeslie To a lesser degree, I felt like I was safe (and maybe a little smug) about having all my shots and thinking I wouldn’t get it either. Most of my friends have gotten the newest variant and they have all been vaccinated and boosted. But I will never know if my case would definitely have been worse without the vaccines.

JLeslie's avatar

@chyna You probably listen to the same news as my friend. I watch the same stations too, but I read a ton about the vaccines, I’m more skeptical than most people about the CDC and FDA, even though I think overall they do good work. Plus, I created a covid Facebook group here where I live so I hear about new cases constantly, and The Villages is very vaccinated. In the last few months there were two superspreaders, most people were boosted who got sick.

My personal belief is the vaccines do help not to catch it and help not to get deathly ill, but it’s far from perfect. I completely agree you can’t know if the vaccine really helped you or not.

I take more risks now too, but I still wear my mask in public bathrooms, in large crowds, and in stores. I’m going to be flying in two weeks and I think it’s very risky to fly mid August, but I’m taking the chance, because I want to vote in the primaries. I guess I could have my neighbor mail me the ballot, but I don’t want to ask for more favors from her, she’s done so much for me.

RocketGuy's avatar

@JLeslie – In the last 2.5 years I’ve flown cross-country 3 times. I wore N95 masks from airport to airport => no Covid. You are vaccinated too, so one way or another you will be fine. Go ahead and make your flight plans.

eyesoreu's avatar

The sheep dip was to placate the panic among the chattering classes.

Strauss's avatar

^^I see you!

elbanditoroso's avatar

Birx is angling to be head of the FDA or CDC if the Republicans win in ‘24 – this is part of the plan.

JLeslie's avatar

@RocketGuy I booked it last week. I forgot my N95’s, but I have my KN95. I think the mask is better protection from catching covid than the vaccine.

I usually pull back during the covid peak times, but I’m just going to risk it like I said. I’m in a city right now that has double the cases per 100,000 than where I live and I’ve still eaten in some restaurants and done some shopping and went folk dancing with a small group. Covid peak times to me are 2–3 weeks after school breaks start until 2 weeks after the kids go back to school.

I think I’m going to go to Disney in October. I’ve been hearing about a lot of cases happening there, no surprise. Families bringing it back home to their home states the past month. Hopefully, by October the risk goes way down. Maybe I’ll get a fourth shot before then. I’ve been waiting to read up on whether it’s really doing anything or if the more specific shot gets approved. I don’t know where it is in testing.

I’d love to know if people who received J&J and an mRNA are getting sick. I haven’t looked into the mixed dose longer term results. I’d never take the J&J because of my blood clot risk, but I’m curious.

RocketGuy's avatar

I got J&J then two Moderna mRNA boosters. After 3 Covid-free cross-country trips, I took a 4th cross-country trip to a destination wedding. No one there wore masks. Feeling confident, I went around mask-free too. Caught Covid the next morning. Mild sore throat, then 101F fever, then runny nose. Felt crummy for 5 days. Tested negative after 10 days. The last flu I got was 10x worse.

What I learned: 1) mask => no Covid, no mask => Covid. 2) flu is worse than Covid after double vaccine boost

JLeslie's avatar

@RocketGuy Thank you for sharing your vaccine history and your experience. That goes along with how I feel about masking vs relying on vaccines.

Everyone (especially Democrats it seems) keep telling me the virus is so much more contagious now. My response is it was always very contagious, but now only about 10% of the population is using masks in most indoor situations. There is some higher mask usage in some specific situations, but mostly not.

I paid more to fly American Airlines because my husband’s experience on American was so drastically different than Southwest regarding masks. Most of your flying time that you spoke of most people were wearing masks since that was lifted only 3–4 months ago.

I wish masks were more emphasized for flying. It would be nice if Disney had kept masking in place indoors.

The CDC isn’t going to recommend mask mandates if less than a 100,000 people are dying a year (in my opinion) but we could do more through the media to ask people to prevent the spread during peak times.

jca2's avatar

@JLeslie: The problem with mask mandates is that there is a portion of the population that is so vehemently dead-set against masks, they will swear up and down that they have breathing problems, asthma, or that masks don’t work and it’s all a conspiracy. To add to that problem with their beliefs, they verbally abuse any store or facility employee who requests that they put the mask on. That also causes problems with the customers who are compliant, but get resentful (“why should I wear it when he doesn’t have to?”). I could see from the two years of mandates in NY and CT that it was such a burden for stores and restaurants to have to enforce.

JLeslie's avatar

@jca2 I agree. Even in the very beginning of covid I said I don’t think any store employee should get in an argument with a customer about a mask. Not worth the risk. The likelihood that one particular person is sick is low.

I do think we can do a better job as a country taking some precautions when the risks are higher. The problem is the riskiest times are the money making times.

seawulf575's avatar

I think this is damage control. When the vaccines first came out, Birx and Fauci made the claims that the vaccines would prevent you from getting the virus and from spreading the virus. Then studies quickly came out that showed vaccinated people could spread the disease just as easily as unvaccinated people. So the narrative came out that yes, they can carry the disease, but it doesn’t affect the vaccinated people. That quickly fell by the way side as “breakthrough” cases started to show up. Then the narrative changed to say that the vaccines were never going to stop you from getting the virus, but it would minimize the impact if you did get it.

I believe this rapidly changing story is what she is referring to when she says they overplayed their hands. The trust in what people like Birx and Fauci had to say was failing. So now she is back out pushing the vaccines. But her story continues to change. She is now pushing an antiviral to get when you first get the virus (not if, when), but still pushing the vaccine. She just told us that 50% of the people that died from Omicron were older and vaccinated. So the vaccines have now shown themselves to not even protect everyone from severe symptoms. But they still want to push the vaccines as if they are a panacea.

As I see it, her new message is “You need to get the vaccine. If you get the virus, there are anti-viral pills that work wonderfully to protect you from severe reactions. But when you get over it, you still should get the vaccine.”

Poseidon's avatar

I’m British and we were the first to start the Covid vaccine program and I can assure Dr Birx that she is a fool if she is saying that the vaccines don’t work.

It is true that none of the vaccines can prevent Covid but it has save millions of peoples lives who after getting the jabs have contracted the virus. Although they have the virus the seriousness of it has been really cut down and nowhere near as many people have died and the symptoms are far, far lower.

JLeslie's avatar

@seawulf575 Studies with Pfizer vaccine from the very beginning showed a large percentage (around 30%) of older people didn’t create antibodies from two doses. I’d have to go back to see if it was people over age 70 or people over age 80. I don’t know if a third actually helped them. Moderna I don’t know what the statistics were. Our media didn’t really communicate that well, and definitely the average citizen didn’t understand that even great vaccines often don’t do as well in older people. People over 60 get a bigger dose of flu vaccine because of it.

The thing is, the CDC and FDA are going to give general recommendations for the greater good. Anyone who is not an adult between age 18 and 50 needs to always assume they aren’t in the group that drugs and vaccines are most tested on, or that they might react differently than an average adult. Sometimes there are studies done for children and elderly, or specific statistics available, but people need to look for them or really read the warnings and recommendations in full.

The goal with the vaccines was to get everyone vaccinated and sure some people won’t get any benefit from it, but we don’t know which people that will be.

I think the vaccines must have helped, much fewer people are getting seriously ill. I realize the virus might be less lethal now, but still the majority of the cases in the hospital of younger adults are unvaccinated.

I kind of half agree with what you wrote and just adding to it.

RocketGuy's avatar

The real answer for vaccines is quite nuanced, with variations and exceptions. The public, esp. the ones that need “extra convincing”, want simple answers. Just not gonna happen. That resulted in a significant lack of uptake, and continued spread and deaths. At this point, everyone is on their own. Make your own risk assessment and live with the consequences.

I’m double boosted and under 60, so Covid was not so bad. My mom was single boosted and over 85, so was in and out of hospitals for 2 months after she got Covid. At one point she gave me the “no one lives forever” speech. I’ve seen what the vaccine can and cannot do. From what I can tell that’s about as good as it gets.

Entropy's avatar

I don’t think she said anything controversial. She said the vaccines were mostly about protecting from serious illness not preventing transmission. This information has been well understood for almost 2 years now, and was suspected before then.

Her statement that they made ‘overplayed’ the vaccines is arguably true from that very narrow point of view. I would argue that the Trump administration was TERRIBLE at communication (including Fauci and Birx) and that they didn’t do a good job making this distinction to the portion of the public that wasn’t paying close attention (like you based on you being surprised by this dated information). This poor communication was probably at least partly because Trump turned the covid briefings into his personal playground to insult the media and have fun, causing most Americans to tune them out as irrelevant.

The vaccines are very effective at protecting you from serious illness and have a very low side effect rate. Not zero. But very low. They do SOMEWHAT help reduce transmission, but not by enough to make a big deal out of it. You should get vaccinated. It helps.

chyna's avatar

I’m vaccinated.

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