Math was not always my strongest subject, but because of my life-work choices, it has always been an important part of my work. Truthfully, since I never completely trusted myself to always get the math perfectly correct, once I became a CEO, I surrounded myself with math wizards who could deliver the bottom-line information to me as needed. In fact, that was usually how I started any numbers-oriented conversation, “OK, give me the bottom line.”

Recently, I saw a post on TikTok that got into some really interesting and easy to understand math. Because I saw the following identifiers of those who were responsible for the post, and I don’t want to be accused of plagiarizing, you can figure out who did what by looking up @crazymotherrunner, @conservative-hippie1, @Niky.mamaMD, #FactsMatter, #numbersdon’tlie/. Or you can just go directly to this website: rsfh.com/.

This very easy to understand explanatory post started with some really simple math to illustrate the relationships between those incredibly real things that threaten our mortality on a daily basis. For example:

1. On average, how many people are killed each year in the U.S. from shark attacks? The answer is less than one.

2. On average, how many people die from lightning strikes in the U.S. each year? That answer is 25.

3. On average, how many people die from tornadoes each year in the U.S.? The answer is 94.

4. On average, how many people drown in the U.S. each year? This answer is 3,960.

5. On average, how many people are killed in traffic accidents in the U.S. each year? That answer is 38,000.

Now, with those numbers in mind, how many people do you think normally die of the flu in the United States each year? Well, that answer is 36,000 people, 2,000 less than those killed in traffic accidents.

When I was a hospital administrator, one of our challenges was to work to attain positive scores from an accrediting organization that was then called the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Hospital Organizations, JCAHO. Not unlike Dunkin’, they have shortened their name to just The Commission. They typically employed extremely strict, detailed-oriented adjudicators who were real sticklers for minutia. In fact, I can safely say my bald spot evolved from one of their last visits when we were cited for a cigarette butt that was found inside an open concrete block that had to have been there since the furnace room was originally constructed in 1973.

Regardless, they were good at their job, and recently, the Joint Commission’s Department of Research put out some information titled, “Putting COVID Numbers and Vaccinations into Context.” If you just keep reading a little while longer, it may help you make some decisions.

Here’s where some of you may want to stop reading because it may go against everything you’ve heard or been told, but try to stick with me.

First, we’re going to look at how many COVID deaths have occurred between January 2020 and August 18, 2021. That number is 614,531 deaths in the United States due to COVID. The total number of those deaths that occurred between Feb. 1 and Aug. 18, 2021, once the vaccines were available, is 181,000.

Out of that number only 1,400 were vaccinated. This is where the anti-vax logic takes a broadside hit. If during that time 170,000,000 Americans got the vaccine and 165,000,000 did not get the vaccine, about a 50/50 split, that death toll should be about equal between the vaccinated and unvaccinated. It should be about 90,500 for each for both the vaccinated and the unvaccinated, but it’s not.

From Aug. 15 to Aug. 21, 5,564 died of COVID, and depending on the state where you live, the vaccinated only accounted for between 1 and 5% of those deaths.

While vaccines are not 100% effective, they are pretty darn good.

Nick Jacobs of Windber is a Senior Partner with Senior Management Resources and author of the blog healinghospitals.com.

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