Like most folks Biscuit was overjoyed with the news that there were not one, but two, highly effective coronavirus vaccines. Who could argue with two independent studies showing both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines to be 95% effective in preventing COVID-19?
The results from the Phase III trials of both vaccines suggested to him that if everyone got immunized it could truly end the pandemic. The fact that these vaccines had already been produced by the federal government so they could be distributed as soon as they were approved, was icing on the cake for Biscuit.
Despite all this good news, Biscuit started to hear rumors of problems with the vaccines. What was interesting was that when he tried to verify the rumors, they all proved to be false. As a public service Biscuit now lists some of the most disturbing vaccine rumors and provides information that refutes them.
1) The vaccines were only studied in eight cases of COVID-19. That is not enough to make sure they work.
Most people developing vaccines wish you could do it only testing eight people! This rumor comes from the paradox that the vaccine was so effective very few people who got the shot developed COVID-19. The actual results for the Pfizer vaccine are in the table below:
|Severe COVID infections||1||9|
You can see 22,000 people actually received the vaccine. The reason so few people got COVID or severe COVID-19 requiring hospitalization out of the 22,000 who received the vaccine, was because it WORKED!
Moderna’s vaccine was tested in 30,000 people with 20,000 receiving the vaccine. The results were similarly successful. So almost 40,000 people have received these vaccines.
2) The vaccine testing was rushed and not reliable.
This rumor Is founded in much of the political noise around the vaccine development and its timeline. The good news is that the FDA and the companies did not rush the development process. Large amounts of money were spent to do activities in parallel, such as manufacturing while the clinical trials are being conducted, but there was no shortcut in testing. This has been reiterated by Dr. Anthony Fauci.
3) Safety was not adequately tested
Given the almost 44,000 participants in the Pfizer trial and 30,000 in the Moderna trial, safety was adequately tested and was almost as remarkable as efficacy. Pfizer reported the only significant (Grade 3) adverse event seen in 2% or more of vaccine recipients was fatigue at 3.8% and headache at 2.0%. Biscuit believes this may be the safest vaccine ever developed!
Long term safety is an open question, but the purity of this vaccine (synthetic RNA for a single protein) would suggest little to worry about. Compare this to flu vaccine, which is whole flu virus produced in eggs and mixed with detergent and alcohol to inactivate it.
3) The government can’t deliver the vaccine.
One thing Operation Warp Speed prepared for was the delivery of these vaccines. While the Pfizer vaccine requires significant refrigeration, the military has set up the requirements for this and has worked with commercial delivery companies to immediately begin delivery after approval of the vaccine in early December. A 60 Minutes report details the preparations for this process. The overall goal is to have 300 million doses (enough for 150 million people to be vaccinated) by January of 2021. This roll out is remarkable, but appears doable.
4) The vaccine won’t work in the elderly.
Biscuit was very concerned about the elderly (being elderly himself). He was happy that Pfizer tested their vaccine in people over 65 years old and found it to be 94% effective. So you can cross that concern off your list. Get your older friends lined up to get the vaccine first.
5) Immunity from the vaccine won’t last.
Biscuit understands we don’t know how long immunity from the vaccine will last, but much of this concern came from articles suggesting that immunity from COVID-19 infection did not last very long. These articles have been rebutted, and in fact it looks like immunity from the infection could last for many years.
6) The SARS-CoV-2 virus will mutate and escape the vaccine protection
This is always a concern, but despite the hundreds of millions of infections in people across the globe there has not been evidence of any significant mutation in the virus, especially one that would escape immunity. The good news is that with these RNA vaccines, if the virus mutates, you just change the sequence of the RNA and you are good to go with a new and effective vaccine! May not even need safety testing!
7) The COVID-19 vaccine will make you susceptible to being infected with HIV.
This concern was raised because of issues with prior adenovirus-based vaccines, like the AstraZeneca and Johnson and Johnson COVID-19 vaccines. Adenovirus vaccines for other uses seemed to enhance infection potential in people who were at risk for HIV. The good news is that neither the Pfizer nor the Moderna vaccine are adenovirus based. If you are at risk for acquiring HIV, steer clear of the AstraZeneca and Johnson and Johnson vaccines and you will be fine.
8) The coronavirus vaccines are made from fetal tissue.
This has been a concern from the Catholic Church. The Astra Zeneca vaccine is made from a cell line derived from an abortive fetus. Fortunately, the church has not made assertions that either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines were made from fetal cells. In fact, they are synthetic made from chemicals so this shouldn’t be a problem.
There they are. All your concerns are resolved. Now do Biscuit proud and GET THE VACCINE!