But there is also good news: Two Kovid-19 vaccine candidates have shown promise, with the hope that the virus may be included.
The vaccine, developed by pharmaceutical giant Pfizer and its German partner Biotech, has been described as 90% effective in Phase 3 trials, involving more than 40,000 volunteers – meaning that 90% of “symptomatic” Kovid is injected with the actual vaccine. There were fewer cases. Injected with a placebo compared to -19. A similar vaccine created by biotech company Modern showed slightly better efficacy – 95% – though data from both companies are preliminary and require more time to show how well they work. Given that a typical flu vaccine is fortunate to reach 60% effectiveness, the results are encouraging, to say the least.
The race for a vaccine in the midst of such intense public scrutiny takes into account a similar story from the post-World War II baby boom era. The disease at the time was polio, a viral infection that plagued the nation each summer. The virus mainly killed children, causing close to 50,000 deaths and paralysis every year. Movie theaters sat empty, swimming pools were padlocked, youths struggled to use crutches and leg braces, with wrought-iron lungs in hospital wards brought from wall to wall. It was not long before that science was proven, and Drs. Jonas Salk developed a vaccine that would eventually eliminate the threat of polio in the developed world, and in the process we learned valuable lessons – some quite painful – that we should pay attention to today to get rid of Kovid-19. Let’s search for a vaccine.
The 1940s and ’50s were the major roles that the federal government would later play in testing drugs and vaccines. The crusade against polio was led by a private charity – the March of Dimes – and millions of terrified parents were recruited for the cause. It usually takes more than a decade to develop a successful vaccine. Under heavy pressure, the March of Dimes launched the virus polio vaccine that killed Jonas Salk in less than four years.
The 1954 SALK trial is the largest public health experiment in American history. More than a million schoolchildren participated – some given three doses of the Salk vaccine, others ranked the same. Analyzing the results took a full year before the computer age, but the results were surprising. “SALK’S VACCINE WORKS” made headlines on April 12, 1955. “Polio Estimates.”
President Dwight D. Eisenhower invited Salk to the White House, where he praised the young researcher for saving the world’s children. “I have no words to thank you,” the president said, his voice trembling with emotion. “I am very very happy.”
Then disaster struck. Within weeks, a miracle vaccine designed to eradicate polio was alleged to have caused it. Newborns are being taken to emergency rooms. It was discovered that the amazing success of the Salk trials demanded the immediate release of the vaccine to the public. And the government was increasingly trusted, allowing five pharmaceutical companies to increase production without proper oversight. The worst offender, Cutter Laboratories of Berkeley, California, released a vaccine so contaminated with live poliovirus that 164 children were permanently paralyzed and 10 died.
Although almost forgotten today, Cutter Incident started a regulatory revolution, in which vaccines undergo rigorous testing to ensure both their effectiveness and their safety. There has not been a single case of polio caused by the virus Salk vaccine killed since that horrific moment in 1955, despite billions of doses worldwide.
The lightning speed at which current Kovid-19 vaccines are being read is reminiscent of the polio story – in part because the term “warp speed” is so poorly understood. No security corners have been cut. The data from the Phase 3 trials have been carefully studied, and have been halted due to the slightest disturbance. Adverse effects from a vaccine appear after vaccination at a very short time window, and now two months have passed since volunteers were given the last Kovid-19 dose.
The main difference has been the widely expanded role of the federal government in outlining the research, development and distribution of these vaccines. Instead of eliminating the steps, it has allowed them to move forward together, so that manufacturing can take place while vaccines are being tested. This increases the financial risk to the government, but not the product risk to the public.
Nevertheless, many questions remain unanswered. Notable numbers provided by Pfizer and Moderna have both come in news releases and thus far nothing has been seen. How long will immunity last? Will it vary between demographics? Will this prevent cases that currently require hospitalization? In Pfizer’s case, can a vaccine that requires storage at a temperature of minus 70 ° C actually appear in your doctor’s office or local pharmacy?
Pfizer and other manufacturers are expected to request emergency use authorization from the US Food and Drug Administration, a lever in the past that allowed the FDA to provide an unprocessed product in a medical emergency gives. Some experts have suggested less comprehensive measures, such as “wide access”, by looking at an EU prematurely, where patients with life-threatening conditions may have access to experimental treatment when no comparable alternative exists. .
Unfortunately, as we try to speed up the means to protect those most Kovid-19s from risk, we also face a downside. Recent public opinion polls show increasing skepticism among Americans about a vaccine process that they fear is growing too rapidly.
This is hardly surprising. Years of polio demonstrated that laboratory magic was a part of a larger solution. People needed to feel that scientific standards were being upheld, whether there was an emergency or not, and scientists needed to know that a successful vaccine needed to outweigh the public’s trust.
This is a lesson to remember.