Re-opening the club

We all look forward to being back in person at our facilities.  What will it take to re-open the club and / or what conditions need to exist to safely gather? Post ideas by using the “reply” button

7 thoughts on “Re-opening the club

  1. Mark Motley

    There is much interest in the effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccines. There is also, unsurprisingly, some misunderstanding as well.

    For example, what does it mean that a vaccine is said to be 95% effective? It does not mean that 95% of persons properly vaccinated will not get infected if exposed (and conversely, that 5% will). The clinical trials did not measure who in the trials was exposed. All the trials could measure was who got ill.

    In the Pfizer-BioNTech trials, 41,135 participants without prior infection received both doses – half got the vaccine, half the placebo. Measuring from 7 days after the second dose, there were 162 identified cases of COVID-19 in the control group, and only 8 in the group receiving the vaccine. Assuming similar health, ages, etc. in the two groups, the fact that the group having received the vaccine contracted the infection at a rate only 4.94% as large as that of the control group implies the vaccine was 95.06% “effective”. It’s entirely possible many more than the 170 from both groups were exposed to the virus during the period but didn’t contract the disease (at least seriously enough to be identified), but that’s unknown. (Given these relatively small numbers, the estimated range of effectiveness for the Pfizer vaccine is 90.3% to 97.6%.)

    On that basis, these vaccines are remarkably effective. This aspect of effectiveness is important, but it is not the most important dimension. The much more important result is the vaccines’ impact on reducing serious disease, hospitalizations, and deaths. On that basis, each of the major vaccines either approved or in the works appears to be dramatically more effective than the generally quoted impact on reducing disease contraction. This is from a 2/1/21 NYT piece:

    “By those measures, all five of the vaccines — from Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca, Novavax and Johnson & Johnson — look extremely good. Of the roughly 75,000 people who have received one of the five in a research trial, not a single person has died from Covid, and only a few people appear to have been hospitalized…

    To put that in perspective, it helps to think about what Covid has done so far to a representative group of 75,000 American adults: It has killed roughly 150 of them and sent several hundred more to the hospital. The vaccines reduce those numbers to zero and nearly zero, based on the research trials.
    Zero isn’t even the most relevant benchmark. A typical U.S. flu season kills between five and 15 out of every 75,000 adults and hospitalizes more than 100 of them.

    I assume you would agree that any vaccine that transforms Covid into something much milder than a typical flu deserves to be called effective. But that is not the scientific definition. When you read that the Johnson & Johnson vaccine was 66 percent effective or that the Novavax vaccine was 89 percent effective, those numbers are referring to the prevention of all illness. They count mild symptoms as a failure.

    “In terms of the severe outcomes, which is what we really care about, the news is fantastic,” Dr. Aaron Richterman, an infectious-disease specialist at the University of Pennsylvania, said.”

    It’s early, and more will be learned later. But current data indicates the vaccines reduce death and serious disease at a much higher degree of “effectiveness” than they reduce contraction of COVID-19. (I haven’t found source data to confirm or refute the NYT piece, but I trust our physicians could.)
    One of the great unknowns now is how effective these vaccines will be against other variants. Here too, early data seems to be encouraging (quoting again from the same NYT piece):

    “What about the highly contagious new virus variants that have emerged in Britain, Brazil and South Africa? The South African variant does appear to make the vaccines less effective at eliminating infections.

    Fortunately, there is no evidence yet that it increases deaths among vaccinated people. Two of the five vaccines — from Johnson & Johnson and Novavax — have reported some results from South Africa, and none of the people there who received a vaccine died of Covid. “People are still not getting serious illness. They’re still not dying,” Dr. Rebecca Wurtz of the University of Minnesota School of Public Health told me.”

    We can’t make decisions now regarding gatherings in the future as new data by then may be different. But unless this changes, and assuming local ordinances then in place aren’t prohibitive, it now appears that from at least a week after having received the second vaccination, vaccinated persons should be expected to be able to gather with materially less risk of death or serious illness from COVID-19 than from seasonal flu. (Obviously, that would still be ill-advised for anyone having received the vaccine but living in a household with others that have not, since a vaccinated individual could still carry the virus to family and expose them to potentially serious disease.)

    I don’t turn 65 until this Summer, so I don’t expect to receive a vaccination for several months myself. But each week more and more older members of the Club along with their immediate families have gotten their second vaccinations. When vaccinated members reach a critical mass, and assuming the new data by then is not different from what is known now, it seems reasonable to open the Club to in-person meetings LIMITED to fully vaccinated members as long as Zoom accommodations can be made for the rest of us (and assuming it’s allowed by then applicable ordinances).

    For reference, here’s a link to the Pfizer news release about trial results:

    Here’s a link to the Pfizer-BioNTech approval letter:,of%20Authorization%20(Section%20II)%20of

    1. Mark Motley

      Discussion about opening the Club for the fully vaccinated is obviously moot now. But presumably, interest in learning more about the effectiveness of vaccines has not waned. And data grows. I post this update because so little has been otherwise reported about it.

      The CDC recently posted data on “breakthrough” COVID-19 cases as of 6/7 – cases in those who had received the 2nd vaccine dose (or one J&J dose) at least two weeks earlier.

      From the effective beginning of vaccinations in early December through 6/7, there have been 169 mil. fully vaccinated individuals in the US out of a total population of about 328.2 mil. Vaccine administration did not advance in a perfectly straight line, but it was approximately linear. So, the average number of fully vaccinated individuals during that period was approximately 84.5 million (the average of zero and 328.2 million). Therefore, the average number of not fully vaccinated Americans during that period was 243.7 million (328.2 million less 84.5 million).

      Over the period from 12/1/20 through 6/7/21, there were 324,649 COVID-19 deaths (a cumulative total of 273,300 as of 12/1/20 and 597,949 as of 6/7). Of those deaths, 503 were of fully vaccinated individuals (100 other vaccinated individuals died of other causes while having tested positive over the period but were asymptomatic and presumed not to have died of COVID-19). Therefore, there were 324,146 deaths over the same period among those not fully vaccinated.

      So, from about 12/1/20 through 6/7/21, 0.13301% of not fully vaccinated individuals died of COVID-19 (324,146 divided by an average of 243.7 million), or about one out of every 752 individuals.

      Over the same period, 0.00060% of those fully vaccinated died (503 out of an average of 84.5 million), or about one in every 167,992 persons. If that portion of the population had died of COVID-19 at the same rate as the not fully vaccinated group, there would have been about 111,890 additional deaths. As actual deaths among the fully vaccinated group occurred at only 0.4495469% of the rate of the rest of the population, vaccine effectiveness in preventing death over that period was about 99.55% (100% less 0.495469%).

      The much-touted effectiveness of vaccines in preventing at least symptomatic infection in the 95% range is well known, and subsequent data continues to support effectiveness in approximately that magnitude. But with respect to preventing death, the vaccines so far have proven to be much more effective yet. Stated another way, a fully vaccinated person may reduce their odds of contracting symptomatic COVID-19 by a factor of about 20, but much more importantly, they cut their odds of dying from COVID-19 by a factor of approximately 223. As remarkably effective as the US vaccines have been in preventing infection, they are about 11 times more effective in the important criteria of preventing death.

      The vaccines aren’t perfect. But in this very large sample, they have cut the odds of COVID-19 death from one in 752 for the unvaccinated population to only one in approximately 168,000 for the fully vaccinated – a truly remarkable achievement.

      Have a nice Summer. I look forward to seeing you each in September.

      1. Eugene Rutz Post author

        Thanks for this summary – indeed a remarkable achievement. Looking forward to seeing everyon at the Clubhouse in September.

  2. Mark Upson

    We come to the same conclusions, but Mark Motley’s piece is MUCH more conclusive. The risk from COVID is virtually zero for those who have gone through the vaccine protocols, and there seems about zero risk of opening the re-club to vaccinated members.
    So i would vote for opening, and hope others would join us. And, as explained so well in “Alice’s Restaurant” by Arlo Guthrie, if one person says they are in, just one person does it, others may think he’s really sick and they won’t go with him
    And if two people, two people do it
    In harmony
    They may think they’re both faggots
    And they won’t go with either of them
    But if three people do it
    Three, can you imagine three people walking in?
    Singin’ a bar of paraphrased Alice’s Restaurant and walking out
    They may think it’s an organization
    And can you, can you imagine 50 people
    I said 50 people
    Walking in, singin’ a bar of paraphrased Alice’s Restaurant, and walking out
    And friends, all others may think it’s a movement
    And that’s what it is
    The Literary Club Anti-COVID Over-Protective Dictate Movement
    And all you got to do to join
    Is to sing it the next time it comes around on the guitar
    With feelin’
    You can do anything you want, at Literary Club meetings. As long as you revaccinated.
    I am proud to be one of those folk.

  3. Paul Shortt

    I’m reacting to the recent steep spike – Labor Day, ’21 – and waiting to see where this is going.
    I personally know of a few recent COVID cases: 4 persons in 2 separate locations who had been vaccinated, all then quarantined for 2 weeks. Ages appear in 50s & 60s, but not sure.
    In public, especially inside homes and restaurants, I see close proximity casualness of former cautious people. All have assumed the vaccine would prevent their infection.
    Waiting to hear about a 40-something anti-vaccine relative who’s not feeling so well today. We’ll see tomorrow.

  4. mark upson

    i have repeatedly asked the Board, unable to get any response. We finally agreed to fully reopen to vavvoinated members who wanted to attend, in September, then for no specified reason and no new data, have gone back to partial reopening. i have repeatedly disagreed, as this is against any science and i believe against the wishes of many if not most members who want to rejoin the club they initially joined. i have suggested we do fully survey of members, question: would you favor fully reopening club to all fully vaccinated members. simple to do. then go with majority. given we had many more than half our members showing up earlier this year, i think the answer is clear. but our board, with out even bothering to specifying has decided to shut half of us out each week. i think this is wrong, for so many reasons. not sure how to move this forward. i understand we have some members, even Board members, who apparently believe we should NEVER reopen, or even share what data they would require before agreeing to reopen. i would suggest they resign, and agree to be replaced by those who DO want to reopen club. I have offered to meet with any / all Board masmbers, any where, any time. but unable to get a response, except “we disagree”. is this really how we want our club to proceed?.


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