COVID-19 vaccine trials will not tell us if it can prevent moderate or severe cases

In this September 22, 2020 opinion piece for The New York Times, Dr. Peter Doshi and Dr. Eric Topol says that the protocols used by Moderna, Pfizer, and Astra Zeneca in their vaccine trial will not show if their vaccines can prevent serious complications of COVID-19.

Doshi and Topol says that the way these developers determine the efficacy of their vaccines is problematic. For one, reducing the risk of mild disease does not equate to reducing the risk of moderate or severe disease.

Second, Doshi and Topol says that if the vaccines could provide no benefit beyond reduced risk for mild COVID-19 symptoms, they might end up causing more discomfort as most vaccines on trial right now have side effects which are similar to the symptoms of mild COVID-19.

Third, the results of the vaccine trial cannot be used to judge its efficacy for widespread vaccination as it has not been tested on various populations. For example, there is no guarantee that the vaccine will not cause harm to the frail elderly, at-risk populations, and children, populations who currently underrepresented in the vaccine trials.

Dr. Doshi is an associate professor of pharmaceutical health services research at the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy and and associate editor at the BMJ. Meanwhile, Dr. Eric Topol is a professor of molecular medicine at Scripps Research, as well as the founder and director of Translational Institute.

Editor’s Note: If there is no assurance that COVID-19 vaccines can prevent severe disease and death among those who need it the most, then why are governments rushing to purchase these vaccines? What is the point of vaccinating the young and healthy, the very same groups of people who have are little risk of developing serious complications from COVID-19, and whose immune systems are more than capable to deal with SARS-CoV-2? Why would governments waste its resources on useless vaccines? Why would governments endanger its population through mandatory vaccination? [Vaccine makers have been experiencing adverse effects in their trials, see AstraZeneca pauses clinical trials due to safety issue, Johnson & Johnson halts coronavirus vaccine clinical trial after “adverse event” participant, A touted COVID-19 vaccine has already harmed people].

Opinion | These Coronavirus Trials Don’t Answer the One Question We Need to Know

Opinion | These Coronavirus Trials Don’t Answer the One Question We Need to Know

We may not find out whether the vaccines prevent moderate or severe cases of Covid-19.

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