Ignoring age and COVID risk is unscientific
I listened to a frustrating Sam Harris podcast about COVID policy yesterday.
What struck me about these "expert" commentators was that they
kept finding reasons to link COVID policy back to Trump, which was weird, and
all but ignored the enormous age variation in COVID risk.
Both these seem like popular ways of thinking, unfortunately.
I want to comment briefly on the second issue. This should help explain why I support vaccinations for the elderly but feel strongly against vaccinating children, vaccine targets and mandates.
The risk of serious illness or death with COVID is far more age-skewed than most viruses. In the below figure I show this skew. COVID is a serious disease for the elderly.
I also plot vaccine risks in the dashed orange. You might not be able to see it because it is so close to the axis. For age 70, the benefit-to-cost ratio of the vaccine is about 250x (i.e. the blue line is 250 times higher than the dashed orange line). A great outcome and something anyone would be foolish not to recommend.
But exponential curves are deceiving. Let's zoom in on this curve for young age cohorts. I do this below (curve equation is 10^(-3.27 + 0.0524xage)). Notice now that we are way down near the vaccine risk. It's close. I show a broad range of risks and call this COVID curve the risk of serious illness. I do this because reality doesn't follow the neat equation I used to plot the curve and children are likely even lower risk than shown.
In short, because the age skew of COVID risk is so severe, these huge many-hundred-times benefit-to-cost ratios can reverse at low ages so that the costs are many times the benefits. This is why so many doctors are calling for a halt to mandates for vaccinating children.
We should let this well-known information about COVID guide us rather than politics and panic.