Commentary: COVID-19 numbers can create public confusion over outcomes for the vaccinated

SINGAPORE: The time period “scientific evidence” has turn into a part of our on a regular basis vernacular since the starting of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Policymakers depend on it when making any determination – whether or not to advertise vaccination amongst older and high-risk people, tighten or ease COVID-19 security measures or impose necessities on worldwide travellers. The public additionally makes knowledgeable selections primarily based on it.

But this proof usually is available in the type of numbers, which can be complicated if we don’t absolutely perceive the context and analysis methodologies. For instance, how the information is collected, the pattern dimension and representativeness will have an effect on findings.

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Failing to sift by means of the complexities in information presentation and interpretation might create confusion and provides rise to probably harmful misinformation.

Up till latest format adjustments, the Ministry of Health (MOH)’s each day COVID-19 replace appeared at first look to point that about half the sufferers in severe situation – who required oxygen supplementation and ICU care – have been absolutely vaccinated.

If we solely have a look at these numbers, we may be tempted to conclude that the probability of significant sickness for vaccinated people is about the identical as getting a heads or tails in a coin flip.

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Then it shouldn’t come as a shock that some individuals are confused about the worth of vaccination for avoiding severe COVID-19 problems.


However, to match the actual threat of a nasty end result between the vaccinated group and the unvaccinated, we should understand how many individuals have been uncovered to threat in every group – on this case, this refers to how many individuals are vaccinated and what number of will not be.

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An image might assist. What we noticed in each day updates solely captures the prime half: The absolute variety of individuals requiring ICU care or requiring oxygen supplementation.

The backside half is the remainder of the story: The variety of individuals, vaccinated and unvaccinated, uncovered to COVID-19 an infection.

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