Some people are fascinated by large numbers; others just tune out when they see them.

Many people don't trust the statistics from the Centers for Disease Control. Me? I don't trust their proofreaders. How else to explain this, from one of their vaccine safety updates:

CDC has verified 131 myocarditis case reports to VAERS in people ages ≥5 years after 123,362,627 million mRNA COVID-19 booster vaccinations

In case you are one of those whose minds go on strike in the presence of large numbers, that's over 123 trillion vaccine boosters. More than 15,000 boosters for every person on the planet. Put another way, if, instead of getting a shot, each person boosted "according to the CDC" contributed twenty-five cents, a mere quarter, the entire national debt of the United States would be paid off.

Foolish speculations over an "obvious" error? I don't think so. If we don't pay attention to numbers, we will make mistakes, some of them fatal. Bridges will collapse. People will be killed by medications that should be life-saving. Bombs will land in the wrong places. Citizens will be misled. Disastrous policy decisions will be made.

If I can't trust the "123,362,627 million" part of the sentence, what makes me think I can trust the "131" part?

Numbers matter. Accuracy matters.

Posted by sursumcorda on Saturday, September 17, 2022 at 6:03 am | Edit
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I took your title literally and used a number on the vaccine safety update to call the CDC (1-800-CDC-INFO). According to Megan from CDC, the current numbers are 109.2 million people with a first booster and 24.2 million people with a second booster. I'm deducing that the word "million" is extraneous and the 131 myocarditis cases include cases from the second booster shots.

I was impressed with how friendly and patient Megan was and that she took the trouble to find the current numbers and the PDF you linked to and make sense of this conundrum. Based on my experience with the CDC, I strongly encourage you to call them up next time the numbers don't line up. Because numbers do matter, it's a great service to the public if people like you who notice the issues publish the correct information!

Posted by Stephan on Monday, September 19, 2022 at 6:26 pm
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