Jurgen Klopp is not a moral philosopher
Or my doctor. Or even well informed.
Jurgen Klopp is a fantastic football manager. Taking Liverpool FC to the Champions League and the English Premier League titles are just two proof points of that from recent years.
I don’t think he knows how to read a scientific paper. He is not a moral philosopher. And he is not my doctor. Worse, he doesn’t know the data.
His recent public plea that we all take Covid-19 vaccines is dangerous. Foolish. Wrong.
Klopp argues, in short, that not getting the vaccine is akin to driving drunk. That presupposes several things. Here are four.
Getting vaccinated prevents (or at least meaningfully reduces the chances of) me transmitting the virus if I get it.
Transmitting the virus is similarly dangerous to other people as driving drunk is.
Each action carries equal risk. That is, taking the vaccine and not driving drunk.
Someone other than my doctor ought to give me medical advice.
Klopp is wrong on all accounts.
First, we now know that the vaccines do not prevent transmission. Multiple sources show this.
Public Health England data monitors this closely and reports monthly. Their chart below shows that people aged 40 to 79 are getting the virus at a higher rate if they’re vaccinated.
That’s right, not just similar rates. Higher rates. If Klopp had done some reading before making this claim, he would have known that.
Why would that be the case? In short, “Peak viral load therefore now appears similar in infected vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals, with potential implications for onward transmission risk, given the strong association between peak Ct and infectivity”. That is, we have the same concentration of bugs in our snoots when infected, regardless of vaccine status.
And the CDC has confirmed this. As below, with Delta, what the vaccine “can’t do anymore is to prevent transmission”.
Second, Klopp implicitly tells us that not being vaccinated is similarly dangerous to driving drunk. That’s hard to confirm, especially given the vast differences in likelihood of Covid being serious based on age.
Anyone on the road is similarly at risk from a drunk driver. That is not the case with Covid. This virus is a trivial risk to many. Increasingly so as more people have natural immunity and that from vaccines.
Regardless, it is for Klopp to show that not taking a vaccine is similarly dangerous to or more dangerous than drunk driving. He hasn’t.
For his claim to be valid, Klopp also implies that similar risk for the “doer” of each action. Not driving drunk has no risk. [I recall the Freakonomics guys showing that walking home drunk is more dangerous than driving home drunk. But that is neither here not there.] Taking the vaccination has some risk.
I won’t dive into vaccine risks here. It seems they are very limited for many; probably not worth the risk for kids; and we know nothing about the long term risks. That matters.
Finally, Klopp is not in anything like a relationship of care and skill with any of us to provide medical advice. That is for a doctor and a patient. Always. Everywhere. Only.
Jurgen Klopp is a fantastic football coach. He is not a moral philosopher. Not a doctor. Not informed.
He ought to retract this request. And coach football.
1. I apply no credentialism to "moral philosopher". I don't care if Klopp or anyone has a PhD. I care if he can reason morally.
2. I apply credentialism to "doctor". This is a very specific qualification. Moreover, the relationship between doctor and patient is a specific one. It comes with a duty of care. It is held in a protective context of, among other things, medical bodies and insurance arrangements that deal with liability.