Scientists have sparked outrage after calling for Americans who are not vaccinated against Covid to pay higher car insurance premiums.
They issued the call after a study found that people who had not received a shot were 70 percent more likely to be involved in a traffic accident in which at least one person was transported to the hospital.
The Canadian researchers suggested that people who do not get vaccinated are reckless. But the findings garnered disbelief and ridicule on social media, with physicians painting results as ‘stupid’ and ‘a joke’.
The blue line denotes people vaccinated and red line denotes those not vaccinated against COVID. The counts in square brackets indicate the cumulative number of people in each group who were in an accident resulting in hospitalization. It shows that those who are not vaccinated are relatively more likely to get into an accident
The study, published in the American Journal of Medicine, said about 1,700 traffic accidents out of roughly 6,700 involved unvaccinated people, representing a 72% increased relative risk compared with those vaccinated
The Canadian study said that the ‘observed risks might also justify changes to driver insurance policies in the future’
One user said: ‘The ultimate goal of these studies is to say ‘those people are the outgroup and deserve every bad thing that happens to them. We should make their lives worse on purpose.”’
The new study – by researchers from Sunnybrook Research Institute in Toronto – looked at 6,682 traffic accidents in Ontario in the summer of 2021.
Nearly 1,700 of those involved in the accidents had not received a single Covid shot.
Researchers said it was ‘equal to a 72 percent increased relative risk compared with those vaccinated.’
They concluded: ‘These data suggest that Covid vaccine hesitancy is associated with significant increased risks of a traffic crash.
‘…the observed risks might also justify changes to driver insurance policies in the future.’
Dr Donald Redelmeier, the principal investigator said: ‘Our study demonstrated traffic risks were…70 percent more frequent for adults who had not been vaccinated compared to those who had.
‘This does not mean COVID-19 vaccination directly prevents traffic crashes. Instead, it suggests that adults who do not follow public health advice may also neglect the rules of the road.’
The research was published in The American Journal of Medicine this week.
It went viral on social media for what people considered to be outlandish and morally dubious findings.
Seattle-area conservative AM radio host Jason Rantz said: ‘This is the exact kind of nonsense study that sets the stage for car insurance companies charging the unvaccinated more for coverage. It’s transparent.’
The public pounced on the study, alleging that it unfairly targets people who have not received a Covid shot for whatever reason
Researchers behind the study posited a correlation between ‘distrust of the government, a belief in freedom, misconceptions of everyday risks… exposure to misinformation, insufficient resources and other personal beliefs’ to the increased risk of traffic accidents
Coronavirus in the US by the numbers
- The US has recorded nearly 1.1 million deaths due to Covid-19
- There were an average 2,900 deaths due to Covid during the week ending Dec. 7, 2022
- Cases have exceeded 99 million
- They’ve increased 44 per cent in the past two weeks
- Nearly 459,000 cases were reported during the week ending Dec. 7
- Over 5,000 people on average were in the hospital with Covid-19 the week ending Dec. 7
- Hospitalizations have ticked up roughly 22 per cent over the past 14 days
The study had many limitations. It was based on accidents that resulted in hospitalizations but did not include those accidents that were too minor to merit going to the hospital.
The sample size includes pedestrians and drivers involved in traffic accidents.
Dr Clare Craig, a British diagnostic pathologist said: ‘Here is a joke of a study claiming the unvaccinated are involved in more car accidents. There’s a lot wrong with it.’
The researchers could make any claim about the unvaccinated with that data backing them up, such as having a higher rate of recycling or giving to charity because the ‘denominator [was] artificially small.’
Dr Craig was not the only expert to mock the study.
Dr Vinay Prasad, a hematologist-oncologist and health researcher at the University of California San Francisco, said: ‘This also repeats the dumb idea that primary care doctors should specialty counsel unvaccinated people about driving.’
The study reported that the increased risk to unvaccinated people of being in a traffic accident was more than the risk associated with diabetes or dementia and second only to the relative risk associated with a history of alcohol misuse.
Lead author Dr Redelmeier suggested the findings were more innocuous than how they’ve been interpreted online.
‘We don’t want unvaccinated people to feel persecuted and are not suggesting they stop driving; instead, we suggest they drive a bit more carefully.’