Glenn K. Beaton is a writer and columnist living near Aspen. He has been a contributor to The Wall Street Journal, RealClearPolitics, Powerline, Instapundit, American Thinker and numerous other print, radio and television outlets.
I’m a volunteer in the clinical trials for the Pfizer vaccine. I knew there was some risk in volunteering to take an unproven medicine. But I hoped that my participation might help me do well against the virus, and might also help me do good for humanity. My efforts to do well and do good have worked out fine, until now.
Understand that these studies are conducted with two distinct groups. One group gets the vaccine. The other group gets a placebo. The placebo is not medicine. It’s a simple saline shot that does nothing at all.
The reason for these two groups is to establish a placebo-taking “control group” against which both the efficacy and side effects of the vaccine can be measured in the vaccine-taking group. The study is “blinded,” meaning that the patients themselves don’t know whether they got the vaccine or the placebo. That’s to avoid tainting the results with “placebo effect” and “reverse placebo effect” symptoms.
Along with 40-some thousand other people around the world, I’m enrolled in the clinical trials for the Pfizer COVID vaccine. All has gone well for me, and I’ve had no side effects. Of course, I’ve followed closely the progress of the trials, and I occasionally receive updates from Pfizer.
Pfizer announced yesterday that its early review suggests that the vaccine is astonishingly effective – over 90%. The FDA has previously said that it will approve a safe vaccine that exceeds 50% efficacy.
These early Pfizer results are based on 94 COVID cases that have been identified in the tens of thousands of trial patients. The company’s 90% efficacy determination suggests that all or nearly all those cases occurred in the 50% of the patients who received the placebo, and hardly any or perhaps none at all occurred in the other 50% who received the actual vaccine.
Pfizer plans to manufacture over a billion doses in 2021. A dozen other companies are also in final testing of vaccines. Scientists say the Pfizer results bode well for the other vaccines.
The end of the pandemic is in sight. The stock market soared and scientists rightly congratulated themselves.