Will the Pfizer Moderna AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines end the pandemic?

Pfizer Moderna AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines

There has been a lot of excitement lately with the Pfizer/BioNTech, Moderna, and AstraZeneca/Oxford COVID-19 vaccines lately, but I wanted to temper your enthusiasm thinking the pandemic is going to be over in a few weeks, and we can all hit the pub, drinking with our friends, family, and neighbors. 

If anything, I would strongly recommend wearing a face mask across the world until a substantial number of people are vaccinated, and that may take a lot longer than you thought. By the way, more recent scientific evidence supports the FACT that when both individuals are masked, there is almost no transmission of viruses. 

So, let me explain why, despite the good news, we still need to protect ourselves from the coronavirus. There is light at the end of the tunnel, but don’t be confused by the recent announcements by Pfizer, AstraZeneca, and Moderna regarding their COVID-19 vaccines – there is still a lot of hard work to be done.

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mRNA vaccines will harm your DNA!!! Nope, more anti-vaxxer nonsense

Once the new COVID-19 mRNA vaccines from Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna were both announced to have very high safety and effectiveness, the anti-vaccine religion began its disinformation campaign using fear, uncertainty, and doubt. I won’t link to any of those ignoramuses who are posting this garbage, because I don’t want them to have any traffic that comes from this article. But I am sure if you’re following the world of COVID-19 vaccines, you have heard some of it.

I’m going to delve into the world of mRNA vaccines while trying to refrain from giving a cell biology lecture. Unfortunately, it’s going to take a cell biology lecture to explain how mRNA vaccines work, and how there are no biologically plausible reasons to hypothesize that mRNA vaccines can harm your DNA. None. Nada. Nichts.

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COVID-19 vaccine recommendations being developed by CDC and ACIP

COVID-19 vaccine recommendations

On November 23, 2020, new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) COVID-19 vaccine recommendations were discussed during an emergency meeting of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP). As I discussed recently, Pfizer, Moderna, and AstraZeneca all have announced that their vaccines exhibited high effectiveness and safety during phase 3 clinical trials.

This is a brief review of what ACIP and CED are “thinking” regarding COVID-19 vaccine recommendations.

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AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine shows 70% effectiveness in phase 3

astrazeneca COVID-19 vaccine

AstraZeneca has announced that its COVID-19 vaccine has exhibited over 70% average effectiveness in phase 3 clinical trials in Brazil and the United Kingdom. The vaccine was initially developed by the University of Oxford, but AstraZeneca will manufacture and distribute the vaccine worldwide.

The AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine is the third vaccine over the past few days that has shown extremely high effectiveness following the ones announced by Pfizer and Moderna. However, the AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine is substantially different in pharmacology and distribution than the other two. 

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Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine review scheduled for December 10 by FDA

pfizer COVID-19 vaccine review

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has announced a Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine review meeting for its Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee (VRBPAC) on 10 December 2020. It is intended to discuss and review the emergency use authorization (EUA) for the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine.

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Pfizer and Moderna vaccines for COVID-19 – differences and similarities

If you are an American, you probably could not avoid noticing the news that the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines for COVID-19 have shown >90% effectiveness in preventing the disease over the short-term. And both companies would probably be seeking an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) in the USA for use of their vaccines in groups who are most in need of protection from COVID-19. 

Even though I’ve discussed the positive and negative points about the Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines, I think it’s important to highlight the similarities and differences between the two vaccines. Also, please note that these vaccines probably will be released first in the USA, especially Moderna who received support from the Federal Government through Operation Warp Speed (Pfizer opted out of it). There are several other vaccines in phase 3 clinical trials that could be seeking a EUA sometime in the near future in the USA and Europe. 

COVID-19 vaccine candidates in phase 3 clinical trials – the official list

Moreover, there are over 200 COVID-19 vaccine candidates in development, with dozens in phase 1 and phase 2 clinical trials. By early 2022, we could be comparing 10 or 15 vaccines that might be entering the market. 

But this article is just going to focus on the Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines. I’m going to hit the key similarities and differences between the two vaccines. I may conclude with my opinion on which one will be successful, but we might not know for years which of all of these vaccines are the “best.”

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Moderna COVID-19 vaccine – more good news that requires skepticism

Like Pfizer announced recently, Moderna Therapeutics has released preliminary results for its COVID-19 vaccine. And like Pfizer, Moderna’s data is very exciting but, and there’s always a but, the data has not been peer-reviewed or analyzed independently.

To be fair, I’ve been highly critical of Moderna because of their lack of transparency and the overreliance on press releases to boost their stock prices. For many pharmaceutical companies, like Merck or Pfizer, vaccines make up only a tiny portion of their revenue and profits. For Moderna, their whole reason for existence is vaccines. So if they have a blockbuster vaccine, their stock prices skyrocket. 

That being said, there are some reasons to get somewhat more excited about the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine over the Pfizer one. So, let’s take a look.

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Create an independent FDA, CDC – new COVID-19 vaccines required it

independent CDC FDA

The COVID-19 pandemic and the subsequent rush for treatments and vaccines for the virus have renewed calls for a more independent FDA and CDC. Professor Dorit Rubinstein Reiss, who is a frequent contributor to this space, has written two powerful articles arguing for an independent CDC and FDA.

If you have followed the progression of the COVID-19 pandemic in the USA, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) responses have been politicized to the point that even those of us who have strongly supported those two agencies are appalled. 

The CDC has been pushed to scrub information and data to make the Trump administration look good. Recently, it was reported that one of Trump’s minions tried to pressure CDC regarding the transmission of the virus to kids to get it in line with the nonsense being pushed during Trump’s failed presidential campaign.

And then the FDA gave Emergency Use Authorizations (EUA) to hydroxychloroquine and remdesivir for treatment of COVID-19. Unfortunately, the data showed that hydroxychloroquine does not work and remdesivir has only a marginal effect on outcomes. In each case, it appears that the FDA was more interested in promoting these drugs to support President Trump’s wild claims that he was “doing something” about the pandemic, rather than relying upon robust science.

Professor Reiss has written two articles about how we might create a more powerful and independent FDA and CDC by utilizing the types of structures of actual independent agencies within the Federal Government. I want to quickly review what she proposes because I think it’s a conversation that we hope that President-elect Joe Biden might embrace during the next few years.

The problem is that 

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COVID-19 vaccine candidates in phase 3 clinical trials – the official list

COVID-19 vaccine candidates

Keeping up with COVID-19 vaccine candidates in clinical trials has gotten out of hand, so keeping up with these clinical trials have become almost impossible. For brevity, I have made the editorial decision to update this list to include just those vaccines in phase 3 clinical trials, which means that they are within the final stages of clinical assessment. 

Recently, the World Health Organization (WHO) has listed over 200 COVID19 vaccine candidates, which is amazing, but it is still too difficult to tell which ones will be successful or not without reviewing the actual data. Just because it’s in a phase 3 trial does not mean it will work.

Right now, there are nearly 50 COVID-19 vaccine candidates in phase 1, 2, or 3 clinical trials – this article will only focus on those in phase 3. 

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Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine news – should we pump the brakes just a bit?

pfizer COVID-19 vaccine

Recently, we saw a lot of news about the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine –  it seemed to show about a 90% effectiveness in preventing the disease. This is potentially good news in preventing the spread of this disease because alternatives like herd immunity is a disastrous form of genocide.

But, what does this news actually mean? Does it imply that the world is saved, and soon we can eschew masks and social distancing? Does that mean the pandemic will come to an end?

We need to know if the COVID-19 vaccine actually does what Pfizer claims. We need to know if it is safe. And we need to know when the vast majority of people can receive the vaccine. When we know all of that, we can then see the light at the end of the tunnel for this deadly pandemic.

Let’s take a skeptical look at the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine along with what it may mean to the world. I’m writing this in the form of several questions that I have with the answers as I know them. 

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