U.S. Life Expectancy Fell With Covid Vax Rollout, NY Times Blames a Lack of Vaccination and White People

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APA
Agresti, J. D. (2022, October 3). U.S. Life Expectancy Fell With Covid Vax Rollout, NY Times Blames a Lack of Vaccination and White People. Retrieved from https://www.justfactsdaily.com/us-life-expectancy-fell-covid-vaccine-rollout-ny-times-blames-white-people
MLA
Agresti, James D. “U.S. Life Expectancy Fell With Covid Vax Rollout, NY Times Blames a Lack of Vaccination and White People.” Just Facts. 3 October 2022. Web. 9 December 2022.<https://www.justfactsdaily.com/us-life-expectancy-fell-covid-vaccine-rollout-ny-times-blames-white-people>.
Chicago (for footnotes)
James D. Agresti, “U.S. Life Expectancy Fell With Covid Vax Rollout, NY Times Blames a Lack of Vaccination and White People.” Just Facts. October 3, 2022. https://www.justfactsdaily.com/us-life-expectancy-fell-covid-vaccine-rollout-ny-times-blames-white-people.
Chicago (for bibliographies)
Agresti, James D. “U.S. Life Expectancy Fell With Covid Vax Rollout, NY Times Blames a Lack of Vaccination and White People.” Just Facts. October 3, 2022. https://www.justfactsdaily.com/us-life-expectancy-fell-covid-vaccine-rollout-ny-times-blames-white-people.

By James D. Agresti
October 3, 2022

The portion of the U.S. population fully vaccinated against Covid-19 rose from 0% at the outset of 2021 to 63% by the end of the year. Yet, the CDC recently estimated that average U.S. life expectancy fell by 0.9 years in 2021. This is in addition to a 1.8 year decline in 2020—and contrary to predictions that Covid vaccines could reverse this carnage.

Nevertheless, a New York Times article by Roni Caryn Rabin blames this “historic setback” mainly on a lack of Covid-19 vaccination and not enough “behavioral measures to prevent infections, such as wearing masks,” especially among “white populations.” Her supposed evidence of this is the following claims from Dr. Steven Woolf, director emeritus of the Center on Society and Health at Virginia Commonwealth University:

While other high-income countries were also hard hit in 2020, the first year of the pandemic, most had begun to recover by last year, he said. …

Those countries had more successful vaccination campaigns and populations that were more willing to take behavioral measures to prevent infections, such as wearing masks, he said, adding: “The U.S. is clearly an outlier.” …

“The white population did worse in 2021 than communities of color, besides Native American and Alaska Natives,” Dr. Woolf said. “I think that’s very telling: It reflects the greater efforts by Black and Hispanics to get vaccinated, to wear masks and take other measures to protect themselves, and the greater tendency in white populations to push back on those behaviors.”

Other than the U.S. being an outlier when it comes to falling life expectancy in 2021, the rest of those claims are demonstrably false.

First, a greater portion of the U.S. population was fully vaccinated against Covid-19 than the European population throughout all of 2021. Even when limited to members of the European Union, the U.S. had a significantly higher rate of vaccination for the bulk of the year:

Second, whites had equivalent or higher Covid-19 vaccination rates than blacks and Hispanics throughout 2021:

  • A CDC survey conducted at the end of April 2021 when “all U.S. adults were eligible to receive” the vaccines found that the vaccination rate was 59% for whites, 46% for blacks, and 47% for Hispanics.
  • A survey conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation in September 2021 found that the vaccination rate was 71% for whites, 70% for blacks, and 73% for Hispanics.
  • A CDC survey conducted at the end of November 2021 found that the vaccination rate was 79% for whites, 78% for blacks, and 81% for Hispanics.

Third, masking was less common in certain segments of Europe during 2021 than the United States. For example:

  • the European CDC recommended that children under the age of 12 not wear masks in schools, while the U.S. CDC recommended masking children down to two years of age, even while outdoors at summer camps.
  • Sweden didn’t have a mask mandate and didn’t encourage masking except on public transport, leading Swedes to rarely wear them.
  • The Netherlands didn’t mandate masks except for transportation and when required by building managers.

Moreover, a study conducted with data from 35 European countries during the winter of 2020–21 found a “moderate positive correlation between mask usage and deaths in Western Europe,” suggesting that “the universal use of masks may have had harmful unintended consequences.”

Finally and most importantly, the strident assertions of the Times and Woolf are based on the childish notion that correlation proves causation, a fallacy that high schoolers are taught to avoid. That’s because a correlation can be a mere coincidence or caused by numerous other factors. Worse still, their correlations are erroneous.

Just Facts asked Woolf if the Times accurately reported his words, and he replied:

When reporters ask me to explain why the US losses were so large, my custom is to say that more research is needed to definitively answer the question and to mention a range of potential contributing factors. Among them is how people responded to vaccination and pandemic control measures, but I usually mention a number of other factors and in all cases (try to) use conditional language such as “may have.”

Just Facts then asked Woolf if he planned to ask the Times for a correction, and he didn’t reply.

In June 2021, NPR reported on a study from Woolf and company about the life expectancy decline in 2020 and asked him, “So, what’s the prognosis going forward in the United States?” Woolf replied, “I think life expectancy will rebound.”

Given his focus on vaccines and masks, Woolf’s failed prediction was likely based in part or whole on his observations of vaccine uptake and mask usage in 2021. Now that these measures failed to work or overcome other factors which may have driven down life expectancy, Woolf and the Times are calling for more of the same.

Randomized controlled trials are the only sure way to determine the effects of medical interventions. These are gold standard studies in which people are randomly assigned to receive or not receive a certain treatment. Several such studies have been conducted on Covid mRNA vaccines and on cloth/surgical masks—and none of them found that these measures save more lives than they take. Concerningly, the authors of one of these studies won’t reveal data that speaks directly to this matter.

  • October 3, 2022 at 6:03 PM
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    NYT is such a bunch of loons

    Reply
  • October 4, 2022 at 11:49 AM
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    White unvaxxed person here. Why would I get a shot when NIH, CDC and other agencies refuse to share data and do not do rigorous testing? I won’t get the Covid-19 shot disguised as flu shot either because it was tested on 8 mice.
    Remember the declining life expectancy numbers when you vote in November.

    Reply
  • October 6, 2022 at 10:19 PM
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    If one needs to reach the NY Times level of deception, you can almost always count on Just Facts. In your very first paragraph you insinuate that 2021 should have shown a reversal in life expectancy if the population was fully (largely) vaccinated: “predictions that COVID vaccines could reverse this carnage.” Interestingly, when you click on the link you yourselves provide with the word “predictions,” you find no such expectations. From that link: “The CDC life expectancy estimates were specifically based on information for the first half of 2020. When remeasured in 2021, life expectancy as well as cohort life expectancy are likely to decrease alongside decreases in COVID-19 deaths and increases in COVID-19 vaccinations.”

    There is nothing in those words that predicts that life expectancy will suddenly start to go up (what you call a “reversal of the carnage”). In fact, they write that we should expect to see a continued drop in life expectancy. But the fact is, the life expectancy drop in the U.S. in 2020, which was 1.8 percent, fell by 50 percent to 0.9 percent in 2021. Heading into 2021, no intelligent person would expect to see an increase in life expectancy while we were still in the throes of the pandemic. The fact that the life expectancy fell much less (50 percent less) than the previous year is rather remarkable. It bodes well for the years ahead. Without the vaccine we would never have seen such a turnaround and, indeed, might be plummeting further. It is absurd for you to write: “Given his focus on vaccines and masks, Woolf’s failed prediction was likely based in part or whole on his observations of vaccine uptake and mask usage in 2021. Now that these measures failed to work or overcome other factors which may have driven down life expectancy, Woolf and the Times are calling for more of the same.” “Failed to work”? That’s what you call cutting in half the decline in life expectancy?

    You talk about others making the correlation/causation error while doing the same yourself more than once (your graph is one example). But the bigger error is suggesting that anything needs to be proven at all. We use correlation all the time to make wise decisions. And we do so without the burden of having to prove causation. When the first tower was hit by a jet on 9/11, most probably thought that it was some kind of terrible accident. When the second tower was hit, nearly everyone thought terrorism. No one had yet proven that these were acts of terror, but that didn’t stop the government from going into high gear and treating it as such, including whisking the president away to a remote location. In our everyday lives we use correlation all the time to make decisions (including medical ones) without feeling the need to prove anything (proof is not always obtainable). It is (to use your word) rather childish of Just Facts to think otherwise.

    Reply
    • October 6, 2022 at 11:12 PM
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      Everything you wrote is demonstrably false. Both links contain predictions that Covid vaccines would reverse the carnage of 2020:

      Link 1 (2/18/21): “Still, unlike the drop in life expectancy caused by the long-running, complex problem of drug overdoses, this one, driven largely by Covid-19, is not likely to last as long because deaths from the virus are easing and the population is slowly getting vaccinated.”

      Link 2 (3/10/21): “For example, many people died from COVID-19 in 2020, but with vaccines and other improved methods of prevention and treatment, the number of deaths may be fewer in 2021.”

      You also misinterpreted the excerpt you quoted from Link 2. It refers to life expectancy estimates for 2020, not 2021. The only mention of “2021” refers to when the data from the second half of 2020 will be available.

      Your argument about “cutting in half the decline in life expectancy” is inane. Life expectancy normally increases, and the decline in 2021 is one of the biggest declines on record. If the vaccines significantly improved the situation, life expectancy would have increased, not declined even further.

      Analogizing the attack on the Twin Towers to vaccines is beyond absurd. Educate yourself about this matter before you harm yourself and others.

      Reply
      • October 28, 2022 at 8:34 AM
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        Several life insurance companies have produced evidence of increased deaths among the working-aged population–and it’s not from Covid, which has a death rate around that of flu among 30-65 year olds.
        That’s a corollary to this JustFacts story.

        Also, sometimes government documents are amended without comment. For example, the CDC changed its definition of “vaccine” several times in the past two years without commentary. One just clicks on the CDC link and finds that suddenly “vaccines” don’t immunize. They’re more like therapeutics now. Our traditional definitions are memory-holed.

        It was my first thought when the commenter said that the link didn’t show what JustFacts claimed. That’s not what actually occurred here, but it’s important to understand that it occurs. It shouldn’t. We should see an overt correction–the kind the NYT sometimes puts on A25.

        I wonder if the critical commenter is aware of any of these facts.

        Reply
    • October 16, 2022 at 9:52 AM
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      And…swing and miss!

      Reply
    • October 20, 2022 at 10:17 AM
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      The vast majority of people who were high risk to die from SARS-CoV-2 died in 2020, so there should have been a rebound in 2021. The fact that life expectancy continued to decline in 2021 is alarming and demonstrates the inefficacy of the mRNA shots being passed off as vaccines.

      Reply

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