Coronavirus vaccine skeptic – why I am uneasy about a new vaccine

coronavirus vaccine skeptic

The more I read about the rush for a new vaccine, the more I am becoming a coronavirus vaccine skeptic. I think that we’re doing this all wrong, and I think that this vaccine could be a disaster if it is rushed to the market.

Because too many people don’t read articles beyond the title, like anti-vaxxers who can’t be bothered to delve into the science beyond abstracts, I want to be clear about something. All vaccines available today are overwhelmingly safe and effective – any possible issues with vaccines are substantially smaller than the harm caused by the disease.

This is settled science.

I am a passionate supporter of all vaccines, anyone who reads this blog knows that. I am only a coronavirus vaccine skeptic – and just to be clear again, I am a scientific skeptic which means I follow evidence derived from the scientific method to a conclusion. 

My coronavirus vaccine skepticism, at least right now, is based on the fact that there is little evidence supporting either it’s effectiveness or safety, although those are not really issues because we are very early in the development of these vaccines. My skepticism is in the methods that we are employing to rush this vaccine to market.

This is totally different than your typical anti-vaccine zealots like Del Bigtree  Littletree and RFK Jr who ignore all scientific evidence to push their anti-vaccine narrative. 

Although I’ve written about my concerns regarding our rush to get a vaccine previously, I’ve made more observations that bother me. Continue reading “Coronavirus vaccine skeptic – why I am uneasy about a new vaccine”

June 2020 ACIP meeting – meningococcal, influenza, COVID-19 vaccines

June 2020 ACIP meeting

This article about the June 2020 ACIP meeting 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.

During June 2020, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) held its second annual meeting for the year. Because we are in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic, and traveling is challenging for many – including, I suspect, for several of the Committee members, not all of which live near Georgia – the meeting, like most conferences this year (those which were not canceled) was held virtually. The CDC still provided an opportunity for oral comment, though there were some logistical challenges with their new system.

The June 2020 ACIP meeting discussed meningococcal vaccines, influenza vaccines, and then had the opportunity for public comment. The entire afternoon was devoted to COVID-19 and COVID-19 vaccines.

As with previous meetings, ACIP is a geek’s dream meeting and everyone else’s – except the experts, and I suspect – hope – most experts are geeks –  boredom feast. I learned a lot.

One of the most important lessons is that the committee takes vaccine safety very, very seriously. The other is that decisions on vaccines – like most policy decisions – are always made on incomplete knowledge. We never know everything. That is where expert judgment comes in. Incomplete knowledge does not mean there is not enough knowledge to assess benefits/risks, though any such assessment should be reassessed when new knowledge comes in.

Finally, it’s important to remember – and something the anti-vaccine observers of these meetings seem unaware of, but that doctors treating patients likely are not – that a decision not to use a vaccine is a decision with costs and risks – the costs and risks of the disease the vaccine prevents.

The choice is never between no risk and the vaccine because we don’t have vaccines unless a disease causes substantial mortality and morbidity. The choice is always whether, given the information, an informed decision can be made and which risks that information suggests are higher – those of the vaccine or those of not vaccinating.

Finally, my notes are over 14 pages of text for the June 2020 ACIP meeting, and that’s because my computer crashed at the end and I lost my last two pages of notes, which is really frustrating – and I have 153 screenshots of slides (yes, I am surprised too). I really want this post to be shorter. So I’m going to try and be very brief, and I’m happy to share my full notes, just email me at [email protected] Continue reading “June 2020 ACIP meeting – meningococcal, influenza, COVID-19 vaccines”

Coronavirus vaccine trials – updating current studies across the world

coronavirus vaccine trials

This article about coronavirus vaccine trials will be regularly updated as new clinical trials are registered or early results are published about an ongoing trial. Again, this article will focus on coronavirus trials – treatments and diagnostic tests are outside of the scope of this article.

Keeping up with COVID-19 vaccine candidates has gotten out of hand, so for brevity, I’ve created a separate list of coronavirus vaccine trials. The interest in clinical trials for a new COVID-19  vaccine is unprecedented, so I thought this might be the best way to keep loyal readers up-to-date.

Recently, the World Health Organization (WHO) has listed over 140 vaccine candidates, which is amazing, but it is way too difficult to tell which ones have any chance of actually becoming a real product.

Right now, there are 16 vaccine candidates in clinical trials – this article will analyze these coronavirus vaccine trials. Of course, this number changes from week-to-week, so who knows what it will be the next time I update this article!

Continue reading “Coronavirus vaccine trials – updating current studies across the world”

Coronavirus vaccine clinical trials – keeping up with everything out there

coronavirus vaccine clinical trials

This article about coronavirus vaccine clinical trials will be regularly updated as new clinical trials are registered or early results are published about an ongoing trial. Again, this article will focus on coronavirus clinical trials – treatments and diagnostic tests are outside of the scope of this article.

Keeping up with COVID-19 vaccine candidates has gotten out of hand, so for brevity, I’ve created a separate list of coronavirus vaccine clinical trials. The interest in clinical trials for a new vaccine is unprecedented, so I thought this might be the best way to keep loyal readers up-to-date.

Recently, the World Health Organization (WHO) has listed over 110 vaccine candidates, which is amazing, but it is way too difficult to tell which ones have any chance of actually becoming a real product.

Right now, there are numerous vaccine candidates in clinical trials – this article will analyze these coronavirus vaccine clinical trials.

Continue reading “Coronavirus vaccine clinical trials – keeping up with everything out there”

COVID 19 conspiracies – debunking the top 6 for entertainment purposes

COVID 19 conspiracies

Since I can only write so much about coronavirus vaccines without going mad, let’s talk about COVID-19 conspiracies. There are so many, but I wanted to focus on the six that are most frequently circulating around the internet.

I wonder what conspiracists before the existence of the internet. It’s possible that they were limited to those awful trash papers you could buy at the grocery story line checkout. Back when we actually stood in grocery store lines.

Today, we can’t have any science without someone inventing some conspiracy to go around it. You know, like vaccines contain nanobots or something. Actually, medical research is studying the use of nanotechnology for treating diseases – can’t wait for the ridiculous myths to surround that when it appears.

I know that 99.9% of the readers of this blog probably reject all conspiracies as pure, unfettered nonsense. But we need to have a little snark and fun during these dystopian times.

One little housekeeping note – I’m not going to link to any conspiracy website or anything. Why give them the clicks?

Continue reading “COVID 19 conspiracies – debunking the top 6 for entertainment purposes”

Coronavirus mutations and vaccines – worse than murder hornets

coronavirus mutations

I am skeptical of the wild claims about getting a COVID-19 vaccine in 12-18 months, and now there is powerful research about coronavirus mutations that makes me very concerned about getting an effective vaccine. And you thought murder hornets were bad? 

These coronavirus mutations could mean a disaster for current vaccine research – if we’re developing vaccines for a previous strain of COVID-19, rather than more current (and apparently, more virulent) coronavirus vaccines.

This makes the murder hornets look like a ladybug.  

A recent paper looks at a particularly dangerous strain of coronavirus mutations that should make us reassess any optimism about getting a new COVID-19 vaccine. Let’s examine the paper. Continue reading “Coronavirus mutations and vaccines – worse than murder hornets”

Coronavirus vaccine race – Operation Warp Speed could be a disaster

coronavirus vaccine race

Donald Trump has recently pushed “Operation Warp Speed” that will speed the coronavirus vaccine race so that we can have a new COVID-19 vaccine by January 2021. This is could end up being a disaster.

This is like the hundredth article I’ve posted on coronavirus vaccines. I just joked with someone that if I wrote an article that conclusively established that aluminum adjuvants in vaccines actually cured cancer, erectile dysfunction, and the inability to hit an inside curveball, the first 30 comments posted at the end of that article would ask, “yeah that’s nice to know, old dinosaur. But does it cure COVID-19?”

Even Dr. Anthony Fauci, whose facial expressions in response to whatever lie that Donald Trump is saying during his daily coronavirus campaign events are meme-worthy, has also said that we might see a vaccine within 12-18 months. Now, Dr. Fauci is a billion times smarter than I ever will be about immunology, infectious diseases, and baseball, but I have numerous reservations about this aggressive timeline. 

Maybe Dr. Fauci has some inside knowledge. Maybe he has seen some secret data only available only to him and Bill Gates. Maybe Trump has a gun pointed at him during these press briefings (really, campaign rallies). 

I don’t know the real answer, but a lot of vaccine experts who have spent their lifetime studying vaccines are very skeptical of this aggressive timeline for a new COVID-19 vaccine. I consider myself a pharmaceutical development expert, and I am unconvinced that this coronavirus vaccine race can be done safely. Continue reading “Coronavirus vaccine race – Operation Warp Speed could be a disaster”

Dogs, cats, and COVID-19 – what is the effect of the virus on our pets?

Dogs, cats and COVID-19

As a result of a story where a Malayan tiger in the Bronx Zoo contracted COVID-19, many people have begun worrying about dogs, cats, and COVID-19. Is there a worry? Can our pets get sick from the virus? Can they infect humans with it?

Of course, like everything in science, the evidence is not completely clear, especially since this virus has only been recognized since early December 2019. We still don’t have a complete picture of the pathophysiology of the disease, so answering questions about dogs, cats, and COVID-19 is going to be somewhat difficult.

However, we do have some early data, so I’m going to review it as best as I can. Continue reading “Dogs, cats, and COVID-19 – what is the effect of the virus on our pets?”

Vaccine challenge studies – can it speed up coronavirus vaccine licensing?

Yesterday, I discussed the difficulty of developing a new coronavirus vaccine. However, vaccine challenge studies may be one way to speed up the timeline for us to get a vaccine for COVID-19.

But, and there’s always a but, vaccine challenge studies test the limits of biomedical ethics and quality of results. 

Because it is important to review all aspects of coronavirus vaccine development, I wanted to spend a few moments of your time discussing this method of clinical testing of a new vaccine. Continue reading “Vaccine challenge studies – can it speed up coronavirus vaccine licensing?”

Coronavirus vaccine development – it’s going to take a long time

Coronavirus vaccine development

I keep reading this belief, over and over, that by some miracle, coronavirus vaccine development will only take “12-18 months.” Like a lot of things in life, we keep repeating that mantra, but when anyone tries to find any veracity in that claim, there’s little there.

I know this is like the hundredth article I’ve posted on coronavirus vaccines. I just joked with someone that if I wrote an article that conclusively established that aluminum adjuvants in vaccines actually cured cancer, erectile dysfunction, and the inability to hit an inside curveball, the first 30 comments posted at the end of that article would ask, “yeah that’s nice to know, old dinosaur. But does it cure COVID-19?”

But the common theme I keep hearing is that coronavirus vaccine development will go super fast, and we’ll have that vaccine in 12-18 months. Then we can go back to fun times like watching that inside curveball at a baseball game, scaring away wildlife at our National Parks, and sitting in our friendly diner consuming thousands of calories. 

Even Dr. Anthony Facui, whose facial expressions in response to whatever lie that Donald Trump is saying during his daily coronavirus campaign events are meme-worthy, has said that we might see a vaccine within 12-18 months. Now, Dr. Fauci is a billion times smarter than this old raptor, but I am very skeptical. 

Maybe he has some inside knowledge. Maybe he has seen some secret data only available only to him and Bill Gates. Maybe Trump has a gun pointed at him during these campaign rallies. Or maybe he just believes it because he’s an optimistic person, and he doesn’t want people to give up knowing that it could take three or more years for a vaccine.

I don’t know the real answer, but a lot of vaccine experts who have spent their lifetime studying vaccines, and they are very skeptical of this aggressive coronavirus vaccine development timeline. 

I know I’ve been repeating myself over and over and over about coronavirus vaccine development, but I just think that we’re doing a disservice to public health by placing bets on a COVID-19 vaccine being out there any time within that timeframe. Continue reading “Coronavirus vaccine development – it’s going to take a long time”