Currently, hundreds of millions of people face the choice to
(1) get vaccinated against Covid-19 (maybe choosing between different vaccines)
(2) do nothing
Given the fact that both the vaccines and contracting Covid-19 pose risks (in a sense that they may lead to significant reduction of quality of life), it is natural to approach the question whether to go with (1) or (2) from a decision-theoretic perspective. In other words, it is not obvious which of the two (or more) options listed above is the best option considering only self-interest.
Take e.g. me, I expect to live for at least 50 more years (likely much longer). I am almost exclusively interested in irreversible long-term effects or death rates. It absolutely blows my mind that given the number of people in my situation, after a couple hours of research I have not found much information to support my decision.
- some information regarding potential long-term effects of Covid-19 infection
- Excellent data regarding my exposure and likelihood of Covid-19 infection
- Excellent data on reversible short-term effects of vaccination (which are negligible) and short-term mortality
What is totally missing is:
- Predicted long-term effects of vaccination
- A handy comparison of predicted long-term effects from vaccination and Covid-19 infection
I get that there is sparse data regarding the long-term effects of getting vaccinated. But certainly predictions can and therefore should be made.
What I would have liked to find is a risk calculator that takes into account the most important variables and compares expected loss of quality of life from multiple scenarios. It would be fine if these could be heuristically expressed as e.g. odds of dying + odds*degree of permanent neural impediment due to the choice.
Does someone have an idea what to do about this? Any information would be much appreciated and surely helpful for many.
This is my confident understanding as well. All who say 'long term effects' are purely basing this on the 'we don't know there aren't such effects' style of argument and nothing more, when there's every reason to believe that if there were such effects we would see signs of them by now and no plausible mechanism for long term effects.
Whereas Covid-19 definitely does have substantial long term negative effects reasonably often for those who don't die - as OP notes, the estimates are loose, but Long Covid is definitely a thing.
I would rate 'possibility of unknown long term side effects we have no reason to expect whatsoever' to be much less of a reason to not get vaccinated than 'you might feel bad for a day after getting it' even with a long term orientation. It's that small.