How the numbers are derived
The Joe Rogan Body Count is presently calculated as 0.85 times excess deaths in the United States since June 2021.
Some assumptions that underlie this model:
- Excess deaths in the United States since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic are due (directly or indirectly) to COVID-19.
- By the beginning of June 2021, nearly all American adults had the opportunity to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
- Nearly all recent COVID-19 deaths in the US are among people who are not fully vaccinated [>95%].
- Some people still succumb to COVID-19 despite being fully vaccinated, but they are very few by comparison: recent estimates are that the fatality rate in unvaccinated people is 14 times higher. So, of the unvaccinated people who died, we expect that one fourteenth of them still would have died even if they had been fully vaccinated [>6.7%].
- Most children and youth were not eligible to be vaccinated before June 2021.
- However, their risk of death is substantially lower than other age groups, and they represent a tiny fraction of the total number of COVID-19 deaths [<0.1%].
- On the other hand, unvaccinated children may play a role in transmitting the disease more broadly throughout the population, leading to more deaths [□%].
- Only a tiny fraction of people are actually medically exempt from receiving a COVID-19 vaccine [<0.01%].
- Conditions such as allergic reactions are rare and can be mitigated by monitoring at-risk patients after vaccines are administered.
- In general, people who are not fully vaccinated are more susceptible to COVID-19 infection. They are also more contagious while they are infected. Consequently, they fuel transmission and cause outbreaks to be wider than they otherwise would be.
- The wider-than-they-otherwise-would-be character of the outbreaks has second-order effects that indirectly cause even more deaths [□%]:
- When hospitals and medical facilities become overtaxed with COVID-19 patients, quality of care is degraded for everyone, both for the COVID-19 patients but also for non-COVID-19 patients sharing the same facilities. This creates shortages of medical resources (beds, ventilators, medicines) and reduces the attention patients receive from staff. Ultimately, some people die who would not have died had the care facility not been overtaxed.
- Medical facilities concentrate vulnerable people. When greater prevalence of COVID-19 occurs in these facilities, uninfected people who are already at greater risk of death from COVID-19 become more likely to catch the disease.
- Medical staff become more likely to get sick from COVID-19 either inside or outside the facility, reducing staffing levels. (Also, staff who themselves avoid vaccination contribute by spreading the disease more widely inside facilities and by being absent more often due to sickness.)
- COVID-19 infection reduces life expectancy for some individuals. People who were infected prior to vaccine rollout and then later after the rollout died prematurely as a result of the infection will appear in the excess death statistics, but their deaths were not vaccine-preventable [□%].
Taking all of this into account, 85% is a conservative estimate of the percentage of excess deaths that were preventable.
Excess death counts are obtained from github.com/dkobak/excess-mortality. Their data uses an ordinal system for numbering weeks of the year. To convert these to end-of-week dates, Joe Rogan Body Count uses the following spreadsheet formula that aligns with the dates in the original CDC source:
=DATE(year, 1, 3) - WEEKDAY(DATE(year, 1, 3)) + weeknum * 7
Population measurements are from Gapminder version 6 unless otherwise noted. The years used are 1862, 1917, 1918, 1943, 1951, 1970, and 2011.
Opioid overdoses have been rising in the United States and are a smaller but
still slightly significant contributor to excess deaths. Some of these represent indirect effects of the pandemic (economic factors and social isolation), while others do not. Given their indirect relationship and the difficulty of teasing out causality, it would make sense to deduct them from the total death estimates here. If you are aware of good sources from which weekly excess opioid death counts can be derived, please reach out.
About the name
There is no one, single source of vaccine misinformation nor one, single cause of vaccine skepticism. As a significant "influencer", Joe Rogan is used here metonymically to represent the various factors that have led to failure to vaccinate against COVID-19 in the United States.