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‘Please Take the Vaccine’, an OpEd for consideration from Dr Douglas DeCouto

By October 1, 2021October 21st, 2022No Comments

Please allow me to add my voice to the chorus: “please take the vaccine” 

Twelve is the magic number. 

As of September 18, unvaccinated Bermudians were 12.6 times more likely to die from Covid than those who were vaccinated. (1) Taking the vaccine decreases your likelihood of dying from Covid by over ten times. If this was Cup Match, you’d be putting canaries on the Crown and Anchor table all day long for that bet! With your SafeKey and mask on of course. 

In the United States, that number ranges from 5 time to 85 times, depending on the state. In most states it’s at least a factor of 10 times. (2) 

Many people not yet ready to take the vaccine have questions, which is understandable. I hope they will consult their trusted personal physician, but here are some common questions: 

“Isn’t the vaccine brand new? How can I trust it, it’s not been tested?” The mechanism of how the vaccine works has been used in cancer vaccine human trials for at least ten years. So it’s well-known how these work and affect people. (3) Plus we have the experience of hundreds of millions of people around the world having taken Covid vaccine now. 

“What about the side effects? Can’t people die from the vaccine?” About 21 people per million are reported to have died after taking the J&J vaccine, although it’s not known if that vaccine actually caused the deaths (4). The current Covid death rate in the United States is 100 to 1,000 per million. That is, you are 5 to 50 times more likely to die from Covid than taking the vaccine. (5)  

If you’re still not comfortable with those odds, here’s are some common risks that people choose to take every day, because the benefits are worth it. Women who take birth control pills have a 3-10 in a million chance of dying from a blood clot (6). And around 200 women per million die giving live birth in the US. (7) Finally, in the United States, you have a 1 in 100 chance of dying in a traffic accident – but people still drive! (8). 

“I can beat it”. We all know someone who has driven drunk and got home in one piece. But we don’t do it. We know the pain when we see funerals from drunk driving every year. Pretending you can “beat” Covid is like pretending “we’re good” to drive home. We wouldn’t take that risk of hurting our loved ones, let’s not with the coronavirus.  

I’m not a medical doctor, but I have a Ph.D. from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where I spent a decade learning how to be a scientist, and working as one. Now, I currently work in risk management in the insurance industry. So I have spent my education and career looking at numbers and using them to draw conclusions and make decisions.

For Covid, the numbers don’t lie, and the decision is clear: take the vaccine. Save your life. Save a friend’s life. 

  1. Bermuda Government Covid statistics 
  2. New York Times,