These Dating Sites Are Listing Covid-19 Vaccination Statuses

When scrolling through possibilities on dating websites and apps, you may be looking for the guy who’s holding just the right fish in a profile pic. Or perhaps the person who writes, “I love to laugh,” on his or her profile because who knew that people actually might enjoy laughing, right? But since 2020, there’s been a new dating trend for those looking for something else when trying to score a dating win. The trend is called “Darwinning.” And it’s when you are only willing to date those who have gotten the Covid-19 vaccine.

This “Darwinning” trend has prompted a number of popular dating sites and apps to include Covid-19 vaccination status as one of the items that people can indicate on their dating profiles. This has included, eHarmony, Bumble, Tinder, Plenty of Fish, Grindr, ChristianMingle, Zoosk, Coffee Meets Bagel, OK Cupid, Badoo, and Hinge. So when you are bumbling through different dating profiles trying to find the coffee that may match your bagel, you may be able to search for and see badges or some other indicator of whether a given person has been vaccinated. This could be important info if your decision on whether to say OK, Cupid, to someone does hinge on such information.

The name “Darwinning” comes from the last name of Charles Darwin, the scientist credited with advancing the scientific theory of evolution and “natural selection” in the 1800s. Central to natural selection is the concept of “survival of the fittest,” where those who are stronger and more “fit” will be more likely to reproduce and pass their genes along to their offspring. In this case, fit doesn’t necessarily mean looking good in a Speedo or a catsuit. It means having the combination of characteristics that make it more likely for you to not die earlier. After all, you kind of have to be alive to have sex. So, if natural selection is in effect, the genes that can offer better protection will keep getting passed along to the next generation. As a result, subsequent generations will continue to become stronger and more advanced.

So, those who subscribe to the “Darwinning” dating concept believe that the Covid-19 vaccine will make you more fit by protecting you against Covid-19, you know that thing that has already led to 6,256,971 hospitalizations and 1,137,742 deaths in the U.S. alone since early 2020, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Covid-19 Data Tracker. These numbers continue to grow because, you know, the Covid-19 pandemic is not over yet.

This “Darwinning” concept certainly isn’t unfounded. Multiple studies have shown that those who are vaccinated against Covid-19 are significantly less likely to get hospitalized and die from Covid-19 than those who are not vaccinated. For example, a meta analysis published in a May 2023 issue of The Lancet Respiratory Medicine reviewed 68 studies and found that the effectiveness against severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) infection was 83% at 14 to 42 days after people completed their primary vaccination series. This dropped to 62% when 112 to 139 days had elapsed and 47% after 280 days had elapsed. The effectiveness against hospitalization started at 92% and then appeared to wane to 79% around the 224 to 251 day mark after the primary series. The vaccine effectiveness against death began at 91% and then waned to 86% by the 168 to 195 day mark after the primary series. The Covid-19 booster had initial effectiveness of 70% against infection and 89% against hospitalization. These dropped to 43% and 71% respectively beyond the 112-day mark after the booster. These numbers were lower when it came to the Omicron variants, 61% effectiveness versus infection and 71% versus hospitalization 14 to 42 days after the booster and then 21% and 52%, respectively, when you get to the 168 to 195 day range after the booster.

Those choosing “Darwinning” may not just be seeking those who are less likely to die from Covid-19 and therefore less likely to generate progeny. They may be worried about getting Covid-19 themselves. After all, the numbers above do suggest that someone who has been vaccinated is less likely to be infected with the SARS-CoV-2. And when you are dating someone, presumably you will get closer than six feet apart form each other at some point.

Another issue is the whole “Do you believe in science” question. Those “Darwinning” may be trying to weed out those who believe the various unfounded conspiracy theories that have been circulated by anti-vaccination activists. These conspiracy theories have ranged from claims that Covid-19 vaccines will turn you into a gigantic refrigerator magnet to claims that these vaccines are being used by elites to commit genocide or depopulate the world, as I’ve covered for Forbes.

Now, some conspiracy theorists may claim that dating sites showing people’s vaccination statuses is yet another sign of this so-called world depopulation plan. Keep in mind, though, that providing one’s vaccination status on such dating websites is basically optional just like listing all of your hobbies is optional. No one is insisting that you must list your hobby of lock picking on your dating profile. Similarly, no one is saying that those who aren’t vaccinated can’t use the dating apps and thus can’t procreate.

At the same time, don’t assume that the vaccination status listed on a person’s dating profile is necessarily accurate. There is the possibility that someone may actually—gasp—lie on a dating profile. Yes, shocking but true. The dating apps don’t really verify what someone lists as his or her the vaccination status information just like they don’t verify whether you actually like taking long walks on the beach or not like drama. The only real way to verify whether someone has gotten vaccinated is to see that person’s official CDC Covid-19 vaccination card.

This whole “Darwinning” dating trend will likely get even more complicated with time. The CDC Covid-19 Data Tracker currently shows that while 69.5% of the U.S. population have received the primary series of Covid-19 vaccinations, only 17% have gotten the bivalent booster since it became available last Fall. Since vaccine effectiveness seems to wane over time, there is difference between those who have stayed up-to-date on vaccinations versus those who haven’t. Currently, when a person has a I’ve-been-vaccinated badge or other such sign on their dating profile, it may not specify how many vaccinations the person has received and when the last vaccination may have been. In other words, it’s unclear how “Darwinning” may account for “Darwaning.”


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