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.

Continue reading “mRNA vaccines will harm your DNA!!! Nope, more anti-vaxxer nonsense”

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 And like Pfizer, Moderna’s data is very exciting but, and there’s always a but, the data has not been peer-reviewed or analyzed independently.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.

Continue reading “Moderna COVID-19 vaccine – more good news that requires skepticism”

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. 

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

FDA approved remdesivir for coronavirus – what this means for a vaccine

FDA approved remdesivir

On 22 October 2020, the FDA approved remdesivir from Gilead Sciences to treat COVID-19. Remdesivir is a broad-spectrum antiviral that has shown some effect in treating the novel coronavirus.

However, does this mean that the FDA approval of the drug is supported by good science? As I’ve written previously regarding rushed approvals of a potential COVID-19 vaccine, we should be concerned that the FDA has become politicized to approve COVID-19 drugs to make Donald Trump look good.

I think there’s evidence that the FDA-approved remdesivir was rushed and that the evidence supporting its use in COVID-19 treatment may be vastly overstated. Continue reading “FDA approved remdesivir for coronavirus – what this means for a vaccine”

Flu vaccine and COVID 19 – are they actually associated?

flu vaccine and COVID-19

If you’ve been watching recent claims of the anti-vaccine world, you may have noticed a belief that the flu vaccine and COVID-19 are related. This new trope is based on a recent article that is making the rounds with both COVID-19 and flu vaccine deniers (a special subset of anti-vaxxers).

Let’s see if this paper about an association between the flu vaccine and COVID-19 mortality has any merit. To save you some reading time, it has none, except to give me something to write about. Continue reading “Flu vaccine and COVID 19 – are they actually associated?”

COVID19 vaccine clinical trials – over 30 candidates being tested on humans

COVID19 vaccine

This article about COVID19 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 COVID19 vaccine trials – treatments and diagnostic tests are outside of the scope of this article.

Keeping up with COVID19 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 COVID19 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 COVID19 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 at least 30 COVID19 vaccine candidates in clinical trials – this article will analyze these coronavirus vaccine trials. Every single day, a new COVID19 vaccine candidate enters clinical trials, so this may be out of date within a few hours! 

Continue reading “COVID19 vaccine clinical trials – over 30 candidates being tested on humans”

Moderna vaccine update – are we too excited about it for COVID-19

moderna vaccine

If you have been paying attention to the news, you’ve probably seen reports of the Moderna coronavirus vaccine candidate that is getting a lot of people very excited. I’ve even seen so-called pro-vaccine people, who ostensibly should be following science, breathlessly cheer them on.

Recently, Moderna had released some results in a press release, and you know what I think about press releases. Unfortunately, many vaccine researchers stated that that data was not sufficient to draw any conclusions about the safety or effectiveness of the Moderna vaccine

However, the phase 1 clinical trial results have been published, and the hype has started again. We’ll take a brief look at those results below. 

I know that people want “hope,” as opposed to possibly endless cycles of bouncing between opening up and closing down everything in response to the pandemic, especially in the USA, where the coronavirus pandemic has just gotten worse.

But hope isn’t something that interests me at all. 

As anyone who reads my blog knows that the only thing that matters to me is published scientific evidence. And by published, I mean in a respected, peer-reviewed journal. Sure, I don’t need scientific evidence to support my belief that the New York Mets should be thrown out of baseball, because I hate the team – that’s just an opinion. It’s not based on evidence of any type.

On the other hand, when it comes to vaccines, we have built an amazing system of bringing the most effective and safest medical advances to humanity. Despite the misinformation and FUD of the anti-vaccine zealots, the safety and effectiveness of modern vaccines are settled science

I’m not willing to sacrifice that for a vaccine that may not be effective or safe. That’s why I want to take a very critical look at the Moderna vaccine. And I think there are some reasons to be very concerned about their vaccine, although there might be some reasons to be somewhat optimistic. Continue reading “Moderna vaccine update – are we too excited about it for COVID-19”

Coronavirus vaccine trials – updating current studies across the world

coronavirus vaccine trials

This article about coronavirus vaccine trials will has been substantially updated and published here. Please go there for the most up-to-date information about these vaccines.

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 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”