95% Is NOT 100%!!!

We saw this one coming and talked about it a few weeks ago. Behavioral Economists tell us that as human beings, we try to make our decisions easy. For example, we use “heuristics” as shortcuts for decision making. When numbers are involved, we frequently round them up or down. We level rather than sharpen.

SO. When the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines were approved, we were told that they were 95% effective. Many of us were so pleased by this high efficacy rate that we coded that as “Works for everybody, all the time,” and off we went to party hearty. In a previous blog, I predicted that this would reach out to bite us. Now it has. Check this out. What you see is that, as we should have expected, a relatively tiny percentage, .008% to be precise, of fully vaccinated patients have developed COVID. The vaccine is not a magical talisman, but it is working pretty darn well.

Bottom Line. Want to see people level again? Watch this! Anti-vaxxers will see the headlines on these “vaccine failures,” and point to them as yet another reason, besides the J&J clotting “pause,” not to get vaccinated. 

Sometimes, Behavioral Economics not with-standing, it pays to use actual numbers rather than to round. We might wind up making slower, but better, decisions that way.  

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