It is being reported today that a study at Imperial College London “modelled the spread of the disease in 185 countries and territories between December 2020 and December 2021, [and] found that without Covid vaccines 31.4 million people would have died, and that 19.8 million of these deaths were avoided.”
That is a staggering, historical achievement. At the same time, it reminds me of how bad people are at basing their beliefs on evidence. If we could effectively update our beliefs based on empirical information, people around the world would be celebrating this achievement and hosting parades for vaccine scientists. As things are, I have to wonder if with the political lessons taken from this pandemic we would even make such an effort in the future. Quite possibly through political polarization and the linkage of beliefs about medical facts with personal identity and ideology the world at large has become more fragile rather than more resilient through this experience.