Category: Health and Wellness

Mathematics and the COVID-19 Vaccine: Two Things We Can’t Live Without

In the past 11 years, I’ve given more than 1,400 public presentations on healthcare costs, the ACA, how Washington, D.C., manages your healthcare, and how health insurance changes in response. Some of those speeches and compliance workshops don’t really stick with me. A few of them really do.

Like the one in 2016 when I gave a class on the ACA to a most interesting convention down in New Orleans – 2,000 present members of the National Society of Mathematicians and Physicists. The day that I spoke, I think every one of them was in the same hotel ballroom. All I kept thinking was, “If anything happens to this room and these people, will the country shut down?”

Think about how math drives everything we do, from power plants, to Wall Street, to every computer system we use. Even medicine. It is literally indispensable.

It’s getting clear that the COVID-19 vaccines are rapidly becoming just as indispensable to our nation’s economic progress. In the spirit of those mathematicians and physicists, I’d like to take you on a little ride down the mathematics highway, where we’ll use hard numbers to talk about Louisiana and the impact COVID-19 has on us.

Buckle Up For the Ride

The U.S. Census Bureau says Louisiana’s population is 4,657,757 (latest numbers). Let’s start there.

As of July 27, 2021, there are 1,706,544 of us fully vaccinated (the vaccine is currently available to everyone 12 and over). This means our state is 36.6% vaccinated, or to put it another way, 63.4% UNVACCINATED. So almost two out of every three people you meet in your normal day is NOT fully vaccinated.

Another 201,897 people (4.3%) have received their first shot of the vaccination series as of this week. Once they get their second shots, we’ll be at 40.9% of us vaccinated. This is better, but not good enough.

So, how are we doing compared to the rest of the nation?

Not so good. Only two states have a smaller percentage of their populations vaccinated than Louisiana does. The highest states are running over 66% of their population fully vaccinated. Vermont has the highest rate among states.

What does this difference mean? I mean, what does it really matter how many people take the shots or not?

It’s All Math

Let’s do some simple comparisons between Louisiana, Vermont and the U.S. as a whole. We’ll take a look at the state that has vaccinated the most, nearly the least (that’s us) and the whole country for a baseline. It’s all math.

We have 1,391 people in the hospital with COVID-19 as of July 27, 2021,. That works out to 29.9 out of every 100,000 people in the state currently in the hospital with COVID-19.

When I compare that with Vermont, that state with 66% its population vaccinated, we don’t look very good. Today, they have five people in the hospital with COVID-19. Yep, FIVE. Now, Vermont is a smaller state; the population is only 648,560 people. That made it easier to vaccinate everyone, but their residents took action and got the shots. As a result, they only have 1.3 out of every 100,000 people in the hospital with COVID-19. Remember, we have 29.9 out of every 100,000 people.

Let’s go big for a moment. Let’s look at America as a whole and compare our stats to the entire country. To make this easier, I’ve created this handy table for you.

Measure Louisiana Vermont USA
% Fully Vaccinated 36.6% 65.7% 49.4%
Hospitalized Per 100k 29.9 1.3 7.3
C19 Deaths in 2021 2,798 109 206,550
 Current Deaths/100k 0.2147 0.001 0.083


Yep, it’s math, sorry about that. But here’s the hard part:

Our state’s low vaccination rates correspond very closely to the number of people sick in the hospital with COVID-19. We have more than FOUR TIMES the national average. Our numbers of people in the hospital are 28 times higher than a state that embraced vaccination. That’s people who are very sick  and needing intense treatment – for lack of a shot that is free and now widely available.

Our state’s low vaccination rates also correspond very closely to the number of people who are dying of COVID-19 today. Our death rate is almost THREE TIMES the national average and almost TWO HUNDRED TIMES higher than a state that has embraced vaccination. That’s Louisiana people DYING from what is now a preventable illness.

Nationally, only 3% of people in the hospital with COVID-19 are vaccinated. Less than 0.5% (that’s one half of one percent) of those dying of COVID-19 were ever vaccinated. At present, the Delta variant of COVID-19 is rampaging through Louisiana, and hospitals are filling up yet again. Our deaths per day from COVID-19 are back in double digits. We all know what the next steps will be: shutdowns, restrictions, layoffs, economic despair and basically a repeat of 2020. No fun.

We Can Change Our Odds

How do we make these horrible outcomes go away? My goodness, it’s so simple.

The Straight Talk is, math wins. Move yourself into the “fully vaccinated” column on my graph, and your problems get much, much smaller. It’s your decision, but if you get vaccinated, the math is clearly in your favor. You can avoid unnecessary hospital stays and even death. Our economy doesn’t backslide in the wrong direction. No closed businesses. No sadness or economic despair on a mass scale because of COVID-19, again.

Oh, and did I mention new variants of COVID-19 can only be brewed up in unvaccinated people? That’s ultimately where the next variant will come from – people who refused vaccination and are giving the virus a host body to mutate in and spread.  Without higher vaccination numbers, that’s the next threat we will face.

So, we can just keep doing what we’re doing now and have another 2020 with new versions of COVID-19 coming down the pike.  Or, you can do the math.

Your call. Either way, math wins.

NOTE: In addition to the math, there’s medical guidance. I’d really encourage you, if you have any questions or concerns about the COVID-19 vaccine, to talk to your healthcare provider. Your provider is there to advise you on the best way to stay safe and healthy, based on your personal situation. But, your choice to get vaccinated or not is critical, and it shouldn’t be made based on fear or on things you’re seeing and hearing that may not even be true.


15 comments on “Mathematics and the COVID-19 Vaccine: Two Things We Can’t Live Without

  1. Charles L WILLIAMS

    Dear Mike and Mike’s team,
    I always thought I hated math but it turns out I just needed the right application. You hit it on the head!
    Thanks for doing the math and putting it into words.

    • Thad Minaldi

      Thank you, Mike. I think your explanation was clear and straightforward, and I think your “point” is compelling. I hope it helps out here!

      • Michael Bertaut

        Thanks so much for your kind words on our “Mathematics” Straight Talk piece. Like me, you know what it’s like to spend your life in Louisiana and want so much for your state, only to be stymied by things outside of our control. Vaccination is WITHIN our control, so we are going to continue to educate and encourage using the best data we have. Certainly I would hope that NOBODY wants another 2020!
        Thanks for reading!

    • Michael Bertaut

      I am in full agreement with you, Nancy, about FULL FDA approval. The ONLY thing stopping the full FDA approval of the PFizer vaccine, for example, is new research about the shelf life of the product. They have already approved completely the vaccine for its primary purpose of preventing Covid-19’s worst effect in people. We are simply waiting for them to decide how long to recommend the vaccine will stay viable after it is thawed out. That’s it!!
      Won’t be long. I predict full approval within the month.

  2. Michael Bertaut

    I just rechecked the table you saw above inserting the Louisiana numbers for today, Friday, 7/30/21.

    Total hospitalized has jumped from 1,391 Louisianans to 1,740 or our hospitalizations has jumped from 29.9 per 100,000 people; to 37.4 per 100,000 people, a 25% increase in JUST THREE DAYS!

    Likewise, our 7 day moving average deaths from Covid-19 is up from 2 per day on July 7, to over 12 per day on July 30th.

    PLEASE, go get your shots and get off this crazy train!

  3. David Perry

    Mike thank you for the straight talk. Being a lay person, that’s the first I’ve heard about a non vaccinated person being a “host” for variant strains to grow. Can you direct me to some links about that? Also could you do a weekly table of Louisiana’s COVID-19 status?

    Thanks again for the info!

    • Michael Bertaut

      I appreciate your kind words! I’m most fortunate to have a team of people around me who work very hard and do an amazing job of turning my (sometimes random) thoughts into beautiful articless!
      Thanks for reading.

    • Michael Bertaut


      611,791/35,171,679 really is 0.017. But that’s not the death “rate” or a percentage. To get to a “rate” you must multiply by 100.
      The death rate in your equation is actually 1.7%, not 0.017%. Almost 2 people out of every 100 who catch C19 pass away from it. In some age groups, we saw death rates as high as 15-17%. A scourge upon all our elderly, that’s for sure. Did you know 2020 was so devastating it actually took 1.5 years OFF our national life expectancy? First time since 1919.

      In any event, losing an entire city’s worth of Americans before their time, over 600,000 people is a horrific tragedy by any measure. I’m assuming you never meant just to write those folks off, right?

      And if you’ve met anyone of the millions of people now suffering from “long-covid” you know deaths are not the only problems created by Covid 19. Please consider becoming vaccinated yourself and avoiding all this suffering.


  4. Terry Phillips

    Look at the curves. After the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines were approved, the curve went down drastically. But, because the mandates were loosened, there were crowds gathered for concerts, dining, etc.. Now the curve is going back up because of the many who have not been vaccinated.

    Reviewing the math, using your common sense, and most important, examining your conscience, think about those who may catch the Covid-19, suffer and may even die because of thinking more about yourself rather than your family, friends and fellow Americans because of not getting the vaccine. Oh, and think about the possibility that this may happen to you.

    • Michael Bertaut

      Thanks for your comments here. I’m 100% in agreement with you, we need more math, common sense, and conscience engaged.


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