Pfizer made waves Monday with its announcement that its COVID-19 vaccine, developed with partner BioNTech, is “strongly effective,” with a reported efficacy of over 90%. The news was so highly touted that I woke up to multiple texts from friends about it, and it definitely sounds exciting.
The problem? That 90% is almost the only number we know because the company didn’t release additional data for others to read and interpret. Once again, these “extraordinary” findings, as Pfizer’s senior vice president described them to Stat News, were shared as “data by press release,” a worrisome trend during a pandemic. Continue reading
The race for a COVID-19 is heating up. At least two COVID-19 vaccine makers ― Pfizer and Moderna ― may have enough clinical trial data to begin seeking U.S. regulatory approval in December, according to Dr. Anthony Fauci, head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
“Somewhere around December, you will start to see companies with enough data… so they can move forward and apply for emergency-use authority from the FDA,” he told host Dr. Howard Bauchner at a Journal of the American Medical Association webcast on Oct. 28. “Then it could be granted. It could be January, or it could be later.” Continue reading
I’ve written in previous posts about what to look for in COVID-19 vaccine trials and red flags to monitor. The two most important outcomes in vaccine trials are the vaccine’s safety and its efficacy. Recall that efficacy is different from effectiveness: efficacy refers to how well the vaccine prevents infection in the clinical trial, with effectiveness referring to how well it prevents infection in the real world with a broader and more diverse population. Continue reading
Source: COVID19 Vaccine Tracker
It’s been a dizzying task for reporters trying to keep up with the development of COVID-19 vaccines. There are the U.S. candidates in various clinical trial stages, candidates within the U.S. that specifically are part of the White House’s Operation Warp Speed program and dozens of candidates outside the U.S.
More than half a dozen types of vaccines are in development, with at least as many online vaccine trackers trying to keep up with them. That’s why I was thrilled to find a site that brings all this work together in a user-friendly way that’s as accessible to the general public and general assignment reporters as to science and health journalists. Continue reading
The timeless advice sometimes attributed to Deep Throat or Bob Woodard and Carl Bernstein to “follow the money” certainly applies to COVID-19.
For reporters looking for local stories, follow the money doled out by the National Institutes of Health for COVID-19 research. Most recently, the National Cancer Institute, which received $306 million from Congress through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, announced the first grants and contracts to researchers to form the Serological Sciences Network for COVID-19. Continue reading
As various COVID-19 vaccine candidates make their way through clinical trials — see this nice update on where things stand from Helen Branswell at STAT — journalists need to be scrutinizing the findings as closely as possible when reporting on them. But what do you look for?
The questions I include from this piece from Elemental, primarily aimed at laypersons, are a good starting point. Then, getting more detailed, look to this brief thread of tweets from Vinay Prasad, M.D., a hematologist-oncologist and associate professor of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco. Continue reading