CNN Doesn’t Understand Vaccines — or Math

CNN currently is running an explanatory piece titled, “How to fly safely a year into the pandemic.” Unfortunately, whoever was responsible for the article does not understand vaccines — or basic math.

One paragraph of the article reads:

In addition, real world studies of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines show they are only 90% protective against the coronavirus, not 95% as reported in clinical trials. Translated into reality, that means for every million fully vaccinated people who fly, some 100,000 could still become infected.

Translated into actual reality, a 90 percent effective vaccine refers to the reduction in odds of a vaccinated person being infected relative to somebody who has not taken the vaccine. That is, in a given group of, say, 2,000 people, if 100 unvaccinated people would ordinarily get COVID-19,  just 10 vaccinated people in the same sized group would get the virus. It doesn’t mean that 200 vaccinated people would get the virus!

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