- Jonathan Isaac faces backlash for not getting the vaccine
- Jonathan Isaac expresses vaccine hesitancy during press conference
- Isaac’s decision is based on facts with solid evidence
- Given the accuracy of his statements, we rate his statement true and accurate
OUR RATING: Good Journalism, no obvious errors!
In a press conference on September 27, NBA player Jonathan Isaac fielded questions about recent statements he had made about vaccines. In the video, Isaac makes several factual claims that ultimately convinced him that he did not need to get the coronavirus vaccine. Despite the backlash he has received for these comments, the criticism is not based on the facts — Isaac’s statements are backed up by the evidence available.
The entire exchange between Isaac and the reporters on this issue was about 9 minutes along . However, we will choose to focus on a two minute portion in which Isaac explains why he did not get the vaccine . Here’s a transcript of his answer:
“I’ve had Covid in the past and…our understanding of antibodies [and] natural immunity has changed a great deal since the onset of the pandemic and it’s still evolving. I understand that the vaccine would help if you catch covid [because] you’ll be able to have less symptoms from contracting it. But with me having Covid in the past to having antibodies, with my current age group and physical fitness level it’s not necessarily a fear of mine. Taking the vaccine would decrease my chances of having a severe reaction but it does open me up to the albeit rare chance but the possibility of having an adverse reaction to the vaccine itself. I don’t believe that being unvaccinated means infected or being vaccinated means uninfected. You can still catch Covid with or without having the vaccine.”
The media, such as this boorish reporter from Forbes, Sean Deveney, says that Isaac’s NBA team has a “Jonathan Isaac problem” as a result of this press conference.  Aaron Blake as the Washington Post claims that Isaac is part of what he dismissively calls “vaccine resistance” and promoting “conspiracy theories.” 
There are several factual claims here to check.
First Claim: Getting the vaccine means you’ll have less severe symptoms. We rate this claim true.
According to data from the University of Arizona Health Sciences, those who have been vaccinated but are still infected with coronavirus will have less severe symptoms :
“Researchers found that study participants who were partially or fully vaccinated with the Pfizer and Moderna messenger RNA vaccines at the time of infection had a viral load that was 40% less than that of unvaccinated participants. Viral load – the amount of SARS-CoV-2 virus found in a test sample – is not an indicator of how contagious an individual is, though early COVID-19 research suggests viral load could play a role in disease severity and secondary transmission.”
Analysis from Professor Karl Friston of University College London shows that vaccines may reduce symptoms but not prevent transmission :
‘So it may be wise to consider yourself at the same risk of contracting coronavirus when doubly vaccinated as prior to vaccination – even though you are less likely to be hospitalised or die.’…He added: ‘It may well be that the vaccination is actually preventing you becoming infected by about 60 per cent but that is undone by the fact that you’re letting your guard down and you’re socialising more.’
Second claim: Isaac’s age (23), fitness level and antibodies mean he has a lower risk of getting seriously sick or dying from the coronavirus. We rate this claim true.
The coronavirus infection fatality rate for men ages 18 to 24 is 0.008 . In terms of fitness level, Isaac is in good health despite suffering some injuries while playing.
According to NBA writer Jack Maloney :
“Isaac is one of the most fascinating players in the league because of his rare combination of size, athleticism and defensive instincts. Though he was limited to just 34 games in the 2019-20 season due to multiple knee injuries, he averaged 1.6 steals and 2.3 blocks. Though he didn’t play enough games to qualify for the league leaders, those numbers would have been good for fifth in steals and third in blocks.”
As for the effectiveness of antibodies, News in Health reports on their findings :
“The scientists looked at who came down with COVID-19 after the test. They analyzed up to 30 days, 31–60 days, 61–90 days, and more than 90 days after…About 3% to 4% of people with negative antibody tests got COVID-19 in each time period. But those who had antibodies were less likely to have COVID-19 as time went on. Only 0.3% of the people with antibodies had a positive COVID-19 test more than 90 days after. Those without antibodies were 10 times more likely to get the disease.”
Studies have shown that the Pfizer vaccine was 91 percent effective at preventing any symptoms of Covid-19 for six months, while antibodies have been shown to keep a person immune for eight  . This is clear evidence that Isaac would have longer immunity with his antibodies than he would with the vaccine.
So Isaac is young, healthy, and has natural immunity. What exactly are the risks?
According to one study, the risks are not very high to warrant taking the risk of the vaccine at such a young age :
“A British study of more than 6,338 Covid-related hospital admissions between March 2020 and February this year found 259 were children and teens. This equates to four per cent. Just 25 Covid-related deaths occurred in those months in under-18s – half of whom were clinically vulnerable.”
“In the spring, experts in Israel and the US announced they were investigating a possible link between the Pfizer and Moderna jabs and rare cases of a heart-inflammation condition called myocarditis in men aged 16 to 24. Researchers theorised that young people have especially active immune systems and, in rare cases, this can cause fighter cells to overreact to the vaccine, attacking healthy heart tissue…For this reason, while other countries pressed ahead with vaccinating children aged 12 and up, UK health chiefs wanted to wait until more information became available.”
Third Claim: Isaac is in this exact age group, which confirms another one of his claims that getting the vaccine may come with an adverse side effect. The basketball player accurately caveats this notion by saying these conditions are rare, but possible. We rate this claim true.
Fourth Claim: “I don’t believe that being unvaccinated means infected or being vaccinated means uninfected. You can still catch Covid with or without having the vaccine.” We rate this claim true based upon available evidence on the effectiveness of the current coronavirus vaccines.
The CDC published a study that acknowledge the vaccine is not 100% effective :
“The study found that the mRNA COVID-19 vaccines authorized by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) ( Pfizer-BioNTech’s and Moderna’s) reduced the risk of infection by 91% for fully vaccinated people and 81% for partially vaccinated people.”
Furthermore, Israel has vaccinated 78% of its population but is recording record numbers of coronavirus infections :
“The nation – wholly dependent on Pfizer – has a rolling average of 9300 daily cases. Where it once broke vaccination records, Israel has now broken a grim new record – the country with the highest seven day average of new cases per million.”
During Isaac’s statement he made multiple factual claims. From the excerpt the Pundit chose, Isaac made four claims that we rate true.
OUR RATING: Good Journalism, no obvious errors!
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