CNN was forced to issue an embarrassing correction on Sunday after falsely informing readers the risk of vaccinated individuals becoming infected with coronavirus on an airplane is significantly higher than it actually is.
CNN’s Sandee LaMotte published a report, “How to fly safely a year into the pandemic,” that initially stated, “Real world studies of the Pfizer-BopNTech and Moderna vaccines show they are only 90% protective against coronavirus, not 95% as reported in clinical trials. Translated into reality, that means for every million fully vaccinated people who fly, some 100,000 could still become infected.”
CNN’s attempt to translate the data “into reality” didn’t go over well and was quickly mocked on social media. Professor and writer Zeynep Tufekci called CNN out for the mistake.
CNN issued a correction Sunday after falsely informing readers the risk of vaccinated individuals becoming infected with coronavirus on an airplane is significantly higher than it actually is.
“CNN article on how to safely fly claims that 90% vaccine efficacy means that for every million who fly, we could have 100,000 infections. NO NO NO. That’s not what that number means,” Tufekci wrote. “Also, this didn’t even happen when millions flew unvaccinated. So how could it make sense now?”
As National Review noted, a 90-percent effective vaccine refers to the reduction in the chances of a vaccinated person getting the virus in comparison to an unvaccinated person. It doesn’t mean 10 percent of those who get vaccinated will get sick.
“That is, in a given group of, say, 2,000 people, if 100 unvaccinated people would ordinarily get COVID-19, just 10 vaccinated people in the same sized group would get the virus. It doesn’t mean that 200 vaccinated people would get the virus!” National Review’s Philip Klein wrote.
CNN eventually fixed the gaffe and added the following editor’s note: “A previous version of this article incorrectly extrapolated vaccine efficacy and the probability of becoming infected with Covid-19 aboard airplanes. The risk is much lower than stated in the original version.”
CNN’s article now claims only that “real world studies of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines show they are still 90% protective against the coronavirus — but that means it’s still possible to get infected.”
The error came on the same weekend CNN mixed up a pair of Asian professional golfers. CNN ran an article about PGA golfer Si Woo Kim but used a photo of fellow South Korean player Sungjae Im, just days after publishing an article fretting about the use of fonts that problematically “communicate Asianness.”