Vaccine profits from Big Pharma – let’s take a closer look at this trope

vaccine profits

The old myth of the huge Big Pharma vaccine profits – it’s the subject of so many memes, tropes, and outright lies from the anti-vaccine activists. These vaccine deniers, who not only lack knowledge of science but also of basic corporate finance, believe that every Big Pharma CEO relies on vaccines for their next bonus check, which they use to buy their new Ferrari to show off to imaginary vaccine-injured children.

I am not naive – public corporations have an obligation to their shareholders and employees to maximize profits. That’s capitalism, I suppose.

But where this trope goes off the rails is when you realize that vaccine profits would be eclipsed by medical industry profits if Big Pharma simply stopped producing vaccines – mass epidemics would mean that hospitals would be filled with patients, just look at the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s ironic that the anti-vaxxers claim that Big Pharma’s greed gives us vaccines, but if they were truly greedy they’d be out of the vaccine business.

This article is not going to be as much science as I usually do – it’s going to focus on finance and accounting. Yes, I’m a finance and accounting geek as much as I am a science aficionado. 

Continue reading “Vaccine profits from Big Pharma – let’s take a closer look at this trope”

Anti-vaccine Peter Doshi attacking COVID-19 vaccine clinical trials

anti-vaccine peter doshi

One of the most annoying anti-vaccine activists is Peter Doshi. He is bothersome not because he a noteworthy scientist or physician, it’s because he somehow scored a position as an editor at the respected medical journal, BMJ (formerly known as the British Medical Journal).

BMJ is not a hotbed of anti-vaccine pseudoscience, except for the presence of Peter Doshi. For example, they published a series of articles, written by Brian Deer, about Andrew Wakefield’s despicable deceit, you can read about it herehere, and here. Deer has also written a powerful book about Wakefield’s fraud. I wonder what Mr. Deer thinks of Peter Doshi as an editor at the acclaimed medical journal.

Doshi occasionally uses BMJ as his personal bully pulpit to push anti-vaccine rhetoric that can lead the casual observer to think that he is some respected authority figure with vaccines. He isn’t.

Peter Doshi has just posted an anti-vaccine blog post on BMJ attacking the clinical trials for the Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines.  His opinion piece needs to be critiqued because his attacks can add to the vast number of anti-COVID-19 vaccine myths that are being spread across the internet. 

Continue reading “Anti-vaccine Peter Doshi attacking COVID-19 vaccine clinical trials”

Pfizer COVID-19 mRNA vaccine – FDA approves emergency use authorization

pfizer COVID-19 mRNA vaccine

On 10 December 2020, the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 mRNA vaccine was reviewed by the Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee (VRBPAC) in advance of an emergency use authorization (EUA). Unless you were avoiding the internet (and hence, you wouldn’t be reading this), you would know that the review went well, and VRBPAC “approved” the vaccine. On the evening of 11 December, the FDA gave approval for the EUA, the first COVID-19 vaccine available in the USA.

This article will quickly review the major points about the VRBPAC discussion, a review of some of the data, and finally a summary of what we know and don’t know about the Pfizer COVID-19 mRNA vaccine. 

Continue reading “Pfizer COVID-19 mRNA vaccine – FDA approves emergency use authorization”

Dr. Jim Meehan is another anti-vaccine physician who lacks credibility

Dr. Jim Meehan

This article about Dr. Jim Meehan was written by Dorit Rubinstein Reiss, Professor of Law at the University of California Hastings College of the Law (San Francisco, CA), who is a frequent contributor to this and many other blogs, providing in-depth, and intellectually stimulating, articles about vaccines, medical issues, social policy, and the law.

Professor Reiss writes extensively in law journals about the social and legal policies of vaccination. Additionally, Reiss is also a member of the Parent Advisory Board of Voices for Vaccines, a parent-led organization that supports and advocates for on-time vaccination and the reduction of vaccine-preventable disease. She is also a member of the Vaccines Working Group on Ethics and Policy.

An anti-vaccine doctor from Oklahoma, Dr. Jim Meehan, wrote an online post about why he would no longer vaccinate his children. It’s pretty clear that his post is not so much a discussion of his own children (most of whom are adults) as an attempt to deter other parents from protecting their children from preventable diseases. His post is basically a set of claims trying to convince parents that vaccinating is very dangerous.

His claims are nothing new – they are strictly out of the anti-vaccine playbook. But the post has received some attention in the anti-vaccine world and was shared several thousand times, likely because many people treat an MD as an authority on the subject. So I decided to take a few minutes to explain why his claims are not good reasons to reject expert opinion and not protect children from disease.

Since then, Dr. Jim Meehan has become one of the go-to anti-vaccine doctors who is trotted out to dismiss the safety and effectiveness of vaccines. Furthermore, he has become a COVID-19 denier, testifying against the use of face masks and claiming that the disease isn’t dangerous. Furthermore, Meehan was forced to settle a libel suit filed by Dr. Eve Switzer.

Dr. Meehan’s claims fall into several categories (which will be discussed individually below):

  1. The diseases we vaccinate against are not dangerous, and it’s okay, even good, to encounter them naturally.
  2. Vaccines have toxic ingredients.
  3. Vaccines are dangerous to children.
  4. The science behind vaccines is corrupt because the pharmaceutical industry controls it and then corrupts it.
  5. We should listen to him because he is a doctor and knows what he is talking about.

Note: Dr. Jim Meehan’s post doesn’t present these claims in that order. I have changed the order because I want to address the claims in a logical order, that is, first his claims about vaccine safety, then the conspiracy theory that underlies them, and finally, his appeal to authorityContinue reading “Dr. Jim Meehan is another anti-vaccine physician who lacks credibility”

Vaccine development process in the world of a coronavirus pandemic

Back before the world of the COVID-19 pandemic, the vaccine development process took a long time. Despite the nonsensical claims of the anti-vaccine zealots, the vaccine development process was robust and thorough. The safety and effectiveness of all of the pre-pandemic vaccines are settled science (read the article before you jump up and down screaming about “settled science”).  

However, the world of the coronavirus pandemic means that if we can save a few months or even years off the development timeline on a new COVID-19 vaccine, it could save hundreds of thousands of lives. This does not mean those political agendas like we’ve seen Trump do with hydroxychloroquine and other things should take precedence over good science. 

So, this article is going to lay out how, in a world without a pandemic, the coronavirus vaccine development process should proceed while ignoring how the politically-driven FDA may subvert the process

Although I am very uncomfortable with the coronavirus vaccine development process over the past few months, it looks like, for better or worse, we’ll probably have one or two different vaccines in unknown quantities by early 2021. 

Of course, much of the optimism comes from experts like Dr. Anthony Fauci, one of the few rational public health experts who are willing to speak up in Washington DC. Maybe he has seen some secret data only available only to him and Bill Gates that supports this optimism. Maybe he just is trying to be the national cheerleader for healthcare.

I don’t know the real answer, but a lot of vaccine experts who have spent their lifetime studying vaccines, like Dr. Peter Hotez, MD Ph.D., has expressed dismay at how politics may “trump” good science.

So, this article will try to lay out the development process, along with the independent controls that make sure that all vaccines are safe and effective.

Continue reading “Vaccine development process in the world of a coronavirus pandemic”

Coronavirus vaccine warp speed – Scotty screaming at Captain Bonespurs

coronavirus vaccine warp speed

The coronavirus vaccine warp speed project from old Bonespurs, aka President Trump, is causing Scotty to yell, “Aye, the haggis is in the fire now for sure.” Operation Warp Speed is moving ahead at full power with not a single Starfleet Officer of note on board.

Not on board with the Star Trek metaphors?

Well, the coronavirus vaccine warp speed operation is President Bonespurs’, I mean Trump’s, new task force that will bring us a new vaccine in a matter of months. That’s not going to happen in any case, especially when the President Bonespurs, OK, Trump, didn’t add any of the country’s top vaccine researchers to the task force. 

Instead, he opted for industry hacks who have made some curious choices on the top vaccine candidates to support. Let’s take a look at the coronavirus vaccine warp speed directive. Continue reading “Coronavirus vaccine warp speed – Scotty screaming at Captain Bonespurs”

Coronavirus vaccines – massive list of vaccine candidates for COVID-19

coronavirus vaccines

Because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the interest in coronavirus vaccines has been quite high (to say the least). I have been keeping an updated list of vaccine candidates in another article, but it was becoming so cumbersome to update, and I wanted to make information clearer to read, I decided to completely rewrite it.

This article about coronavirus vaccines will also be regularly updated, so stay tuned. Continue reading “Coronavirus vaccines – massive list of vaccine candidates for COVID-19”

COVID-19 vaccine research for coronavirus – updated 26 March 2020

COVID-19 vaccine

This article about COVID-19 vaccine research has been completely updated and can be found here. The comments section for this article has been closed.

Because the development of a potential COVID-19 vaccine is of massive interest currently, and because I have a passion for vaccine research and development, this article will a guide for vaccines involved with the coronavirus. It will be updated regularly, and I will post to social media when it is updated.

Right now, there are several COVID-19 vaccine candidates being developed by large and small pharmaceutical companies. Of course, social media will make it sound like they are all just around the corner, and they will all work.

It doesn’t work that way, so let me keep you updated with this guide to COVID-19 vaccine research and development. Continue reading “COVID-19 vaccine research for coronavirus – updated 26 March 2020”

Improving Vaccine Policy Making: A Dose of Reality – Dorit R Reiss and Paul A Offit

vaccine policy

This post is a preprint of an article to be published in Vaccine entitled “Improving Vaccine Policy Making: A Dose of Reality.” The authors are Dorit Rubinstein Reiss, Ph.D., Professor of Law at the University of California Hastings College of the Law (San Francisco, CA), and Paul A. Offit, MD, Professor of Pediatrics, Division of Infectious Disease, The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, The Perelman School at the University of Pennsylvania.

This article’s full citation is:

Reiss DR, Offit PA. Improving Vaccine Policy Making: A Dose of Reality. Vaccine. 2020 February 5. doi: 10.1016/j.vaccine.2020.01.036.

This preprint (see Note 1) is being published here, with permission from Professors Reiss and Offit, as a public service because it is an important part of the discussion on vaccine policy. Continue reading “Improving Vaccine Policy Making: A Dose of Reality – Dorit R Reiss and Paul A Offit”

Tetyana Obukhanych – another anti-vaccine appeal to false authority

TETYANA OBUKHANYCH

The old Skeptical Raptor took a bit of a break to recharge their batteries to tackle all of the pseudoscience that will be coming out in 2020. In lieu of new content, I will be republishing the top 10 most read articles on this blog during 2019. Here’s number 1 – the queen of the false authority of the anti-vaxxers – Tetyana Obukhanych. 

One of their favorite pseudoscientists of the anti-vaccine religion is Tetyana Obukhanych, someone who appears to have great credentials. Unfortunately, once you dig below the surface of her claims, there is no credible evidence in support. 

One of the most irritating problems I have with the anti-vaccine movement is their over-reliance on false authorities – they overrate publications (often in worthless predatory journals) or commentary from someone who appears to have all of the credentials to be a part of the discussion on vaccines, but really isn’t close to being a real vaccine scientist.

Nevertheless, credentials don’t matter – an “authority” on vaccines must follow the evidence that vaccines are safe and effective unless those “authorities” can provide robust, peer-reviewed, published evidence that vaccines aren’t. Someone like Tetyana Obukhanych almost never does.

For example, Christopher Shaw and Lucija Tomljenovic, two researchers in the Department of Ophthalmology at the University of British Columbia, have, for all intents and purposes, sterling credentials in medicine and science. However, they publish nonsense research (usually filled with the weakest of epidemiology trying to show a population-level correlation between vaccines and adverse events) in low ranked scientific journals.

Following in the footsteps of Shaw, Tomljenovic, James Lyons-Weiler, and Christopher Exley, let’s take a look at the background and education of the anti-vaccine hero, Tetyana Obukhanych. Continue reading “Tetyana Obukhanych – another anti-vaccine appeal to false authority”