A new New York Times perspective piece on whether we’re underselling the various COVID-19 vaccines had public health Twitter abuzz on Jan. 18, with responses ranging from high fives to intense critique. My reaction was in the latter camp. The points I made in this thread (unrolled here) are essential to consider for all journalists reporting on all vaccines and for this virus in particular. I’ve touched on these issues multiple times in the past, particularly the importance of knowing:
Photo: NIAID via FlickrDr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, received his COVID-19 vaccination.
Journalists covering the COVID-19 vaccine rollout should watch out on Jan. 21 for the Ad Council’s unveiling of an advertising campaign to increase the public confidence getting vaccinated.
The nonprofit group, which led the advertising campaign to garner public support for the polio vaccine in the 1950s, plans to focus especially on communities of color, which polls show are skeptical of the vaccine. Continue reading
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