Did Mandated Vaxes at UVa Reduce COVID Transmission?

by James A. Bacon

Well, well, well. The indefatigable Walter Smith has obtained new data from the University of Virginia through the Freedom of Information Act that put the efficacy of the university’s mandated COVID vaccinations in a new light.

Recall that the university “disenrolled” 238 students for declining to get double vaccinated or qualifying for rare medical and religious exemptions. UVa announced last August, just before the beginning of the 2021-22 academic year, that 96.6% of UVa students were “vaccinated against COVID-19,” including 97.1% living on the Grounds, 92% of the academic division staff, and 96% of the teaching and research faculty.

The Ryan administration justified the mandate on two grounds: that the vaccines would (1) “prevent infection” and (2) prevent hospitalizations and other serious outcomes. UVa’s director of hospital epidemiology, Dr. Costi Sifri, acknowledged at the time to UVA Today that “breakthrough cases – vaccinated people contracting and getting sick from the delta variant – would make news, but were not a reason to panic.”

Back in June I called into question the efficacy of the vaccines in halting transmission of the virus by citing the large number of reported COVID-19 cases. However, the data I cited did not enable me to compare the infection rates of the vaccinated with those of the unvaccinated. The data revealed to Smith allow us to do that.

Source: University of Virginia FOIA office

Let me present the highlights for you:

New UVA cases by vaccination status:
Total number of unvaxed/partially vaxed COVID cases: 77
Unvaxed/partially vaxed percentage of all cases: 2.5%

Total number of fully vaxed/boosted COVID cases: 3,024
Fully vaxed/boosted percentage of all cases 97.5%

Based on this data, one could conclude that the mandatory vaccinations did very little if anything to prevent the spread of the virus. It might have reduced the number of hospitalizations and other severe cases — we don’t actually know those numbers because UVa does not report them and Walter did not ask for them — but there is no difference between the the rate at which vaccinated and unvaccinated Wahoos got infected.

Walter thinks the statistics show negative efficacy for the vaccines. According to UVa’s COVID dashboard, positive cases may be understated due to home testing and “discontinuance of prevalence testing on Grounds.” But until April 28, the unvaccinated kids were required to be tested weekly, which means any infections were highly likely to be detected, while the vaxed kids did not have to be tested, which means their infections might have been under-reported. Even so, the unvaxed kids tested positive at a 10% rate while the vaxed tested at a 12.5% rate. Says Walter: “This indicates negative efficacy to me.”

Perhaps Walter should file a FOIA request asking UVa for any analysis it has performed to see how well its COVID policies worked out. Surely, after disenrolling 238 students, the top UVa brass would have been interested to know if its draconian action proved justified.

Or not. Sometimes, people don’t want answers.