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Covid-19 vaccines trial

The vaccine trials that Pfizer and Moderna carried out were designed to determine effectiveness in preventing Covid-19 illness, not transmission.

Nothing in the trials are designed to indicate that transmission will be reduced. It is instead assumed that when Covid-19 illnesses are reduced, transmission will accordingly reduce.

However, the possibility that people who take the vaccine, don’t fall ill yet carry and transmit the virus, is not ascertained in the trials.

To understand why this is so, we need to look at how the trials are carried out.

Let’s say 40,000 people take part in the trials. Half of them are injected with placebo, the other half, vaccine.

The participants are not told whether they received the placebo or vaccine. This is called a blind test. The placebo group serves as a control – If all the participants were given the vaccine and 95% don’t fall ill, one cannot claim 95% efficacy because it may well be that even without the vaccine, the same number of people will not fall ill. Therefore, the result has to be compared to the placebo group.

After being given either the placebo or vaccine, the participants are sent home to carry on with their lives. When they develop symptoms like fever, they are tested if they are Covid-19 positive.

When a statistically reliable number of Covid-19 positive cases are reported, the trial will be stopped and the results analyzed.

Let’s say the trials stop at 105 cases. If 100 cases are from the placebo group and 5 are from the vaccine group, then the efficacy rate is 95%. [(100-5)/100]x100%.

If participants catch the virus but do not develop symptoms, they do not affect the efficacy rate; the information is simply not captured. That’s because the trigger is a symptom; they did not develop any symptom and were therefore not tested, even if they were infected.

So, when Pfizer and Moderna say their vaccine has an efficacy rate of 95%, they mean that if 100,000 people falls ill if there weren’t a vaccine, then only 5000 will fall ill if all 100,000 had taken the vaccine.

It says nothing about those who took the vaccine and are asymptomatic and go on to infect others.

Also, the efficacy rate is not absolute, but relative. The number of infection is a function of how much risk we, as a country, takes. Let’s say we are cavalier, and open the borders to many countries without vaccinating the population. The daily community cases may well hit 2000. But if the entire population is vaccinated, then it would be 100, based on an efficacy rate of 95%. But 100 community cases would already ring alarm bells. It can double if we think the vaccine is a cure-all and go all out to revive the economy.

It also says nothing about preventing ICU cases or death.

Let’s look at the trials again. Out of the aforementioned 100 participants in the placebo group who develop symptoms, 2 may need ICU treatment and 1 may die.

Out of the 5 in the placebo group who develop symptoms, 2 may be in the low risk group, 2 may need ICU treatment and 1 may die.

And yet, the efficacy rate is still 95%. That’s because the primary end-point in the trials is symptom, regardless if the condition deteriorates later.

The illustration is not far fetched because the older we are, the weaker our immune system. Even with a vaccine, the very old amongst us may still catch the virus and develop severe complications, even death. Similarly, those with underlying conditions may fall severely ill or die if they catch the virus, despite being vaccinated.

That’s one of the major criticism of the vaccine trials. It shows that it can protect people who are unlikely to fall severely ill or die (the young and healthy), but is not conclusive when it comes to those who really need protection (the elderly, those with underlying conditions).

The other criticism is that the efficacy rate of 95% is achieved under a controlled situation in the trials. The participants and location were carefully chosen, which may or may not reflect the real environment (certainly children were not included, the elderly and those with underlying conditions may be under represented or even not represented). In the real environment, the efficacy rate may not be so impressive.

The trials also tell us nothing about how long the vaccine will last once inoculated. It can be ascertained but Pfizer and Moderna will inoculate people in the placebo group with the real vaccine since the goals of the trials have been achieved, on ethical grounds, so we will not have a rigorous basis to ascertain.
Finally, the raw data of the trials have not been released to the public and the scientific community to verify, so we can only take the authorities’ word for it.

Big Pharma stand to make tens of billions of dollars in profits, with the development cost largely funded by governments, ie taxpayers. Governments themselves are under intense pressure to revive the economy. This is a potent combination. Not surprisingly, propaganda has been working overtime. I will take a lot of information with a big pinch of salt.

 

Foong Swee Fong

 

 

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14 Responses to “Covid-19 vaccines trial”

  • xoxo:

    New variants are already spreading in UK.
    Ong YK thinks he can import more cases???

    The stupid will cause more troubles for all of us.

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  • OYKOYOK:

    How effective are the hastily rolled-out vaccines of vaious brands from countries involved in the race?
    Could this be like selling koyoks or s*ake oils to make a quick buck out of the pandemic? Good Gracious…!

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  • MarBowling:

    xoxo:
    December 21, 2020 at 4:05 am (Quote)
    New variants are already spreading in UK.
    Ong YK thinks he can import more cases???

    The stupid will cause more troubles for all of us.

    Response: can we safely say the NEW VARIANTS ARE ORIGINATED IN UK!

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  • Soccerbetting2:

    Reported on Straits Times :Quote -”New coronavirus variant in Britain: What does that mean for us?

    Scientists are worried about these variants but not surprised by them.PHOTO: REUTERS
    PUBLISHED2 HOURS AGO
    FACEBOOKWHATSAPP
    NEW YORK – Just as vaccines begin to offer hope for a path out of the pandemic, officials in Britain on Saturday (Dec 19) sounded an urgent alarm about what they called a highly contagious new variant of the coronavirus circulating in England.

    Citing the rapid spread of the virus through London and surrounding areas, Prime Minister Boris Johnson imposed the country’s most stringent lockdown since March.

    “When the virus changes its method of attack, we must change our method of defence,” he said.

    In South Africa, a similar version of the virus has emerged, shares one of the mutations seen in the British variant, according to scientists who detected it. That virus has been found in up to 90 per cent of the samples whose genetic sequences have been analysed in South Africa since mid-November.

    Scientists are worried about these variants but not surprised by them. Researchers have recorded thousands of tiny modifications in the genetic material of the coronavirus as it has hopscotched across the world.

    Some variants become more common in a population simply by luck, not because the changes somehow supercharge the virus. But as it becomes more difficult for the pathogen to survive – because of vaccinations and growing immunity in human populations – researchers also expect the virus to gain useful mutations enabling it to spread more easily or to escape detection by the immune system.

    “It’s a real warning that we need to pay closer attention,” said Dr Jesse Bloom, an evolutionary biologist at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Centre in Seattle.

    “Certainly, these mutations are going to spread, and definitely, the scientific community, we need to monitor these mutations, and we need to characterise which ones have effects.”

    The British variant has about 20 mutations, including several that affect how the virus locks onto human cells and infects them. These mutations may allow the variant to replicate and transmit more efficiently, said Dr Muge Cevik, an infectious disease expert at the University of St Andrews in Scotland and a scientific adviser to the British government.

    But the estimate of greater transmissibility – British officials said the variant was as much as 70 per cent more transmissible – is based on modelling and has not been confirmed in lab experiments, Dr Cevik added.

    “Overall, I think we need to have a little bit more experimental data,” she said. “We can’t entirely rule out the fact that some of this transmissibility data might be related to human behaviour.”"Unquote .

    Response : New variant of corona virus ? Singaporeans need more new vaccines ?

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  • norm for vaccine development:

    too rushed through (less than 1 year???) ???

    how does less than 1 years compared to the period (norms) which other vaccines came into the market after trials ???

    95% ?? how does 95% compared to other percentage of all other vaccines so far being developed ?? and if 5% is not effective, how effective (before immunity drops again) for the other 95% ???

    are there long term side effects (so far at most about 1 year trial to test the side effects) ??

    //Finally, the raw data of the trials have not been released to the public and the scientific community to verify, so we can only take the authorities’ word for it.//

    if true and if this is the norm for vaccine development (raw data of the trials being released to the public ??), all the more that we should be cautious about the whole vaccine thing ????

    to convince the world, should not all doctors be the first in line to take the vaccination as they know more than laymen about the mechanics and intricacy on how the vaccines should be developed and put into the market ; including all those key advisers / decision makers who advise / approve the mandate for its use ???

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  • TUMASIK Patriot:

    An 85% effective Vaccine is BETTER than no VACCINE…Just like the Flu Vaccine it is NOT 100% effective but +-80% but reduces your chance of getting it unless your IMMUNITY is COMPROMISE

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  • New Strain:

    New strain of Covid found in UK. Many are trying to get out. SG is ready to open up Phase 3. Very timely! SG is one of the safest place now, with no community cases. Most, if not all the daily cases are imported which means SG has no problem with foreigners coming in with the infection.

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  • An Opportunity:

    Foreigners entering SG with Covid should pay for their quarantine in 5-star hotels and all the tests/treatment done. Tax-payers should not have to bear the costs. SG is very safe and has it all under control – zero community cases almost everyday. Those who wish to escape from Covid in their countries can come to SG. You will get all the rich people coming here for refuge. After quarantine, they are free to tour around and help boost the economy. Turn adversity into opportunity.

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  • Harder Truths:

    Do not be misled by the propaganda. There is no indication any of the tests work. None. It takes more than two years to map the virus gene and create a vaccine that needs to go through a lot of tests to determine what it can actually do. None of this has been done except promises of maybe, likely, possibly and expected. Means nothing.

    Too many people have fallen sick and the side effects are considered BAD. Yet the local MSM is saying 80% would take the vaccine. Yes – go ahead. They want to die for the regime their business after all.

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  • Harder Truths:

    An Opportunity:
    Foreigners entering SG with Covid should pay for their quarantine in 5-star hotels and all the tests/treatment done. Tax-payers should not have to bear the costs. SG is very safe and has it all under control – zero community cases almost everyday. Those who wish to escape from Covid in their countries can come to SG. You will get all the rich people coming here for refuge. After quarantine, they are free to tour around and help boost the economy. Turn adversity into opportunity.

    $G was very lucky this time. Very very lucky. In spite of the stupidity of the regime, the people were the ones who made the sacrifices to keep the virus down.

    Next time we may not be so lucky. A deadly virus would wipe out $G and you would not know about it until too late.

    The regime has already decided we can all be sacrificed if necessary. As long as there are FT why worry about citizens? They can make as many citizens as they like to make up the numbers for the next election.

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  • Capitalize on the Crisis:

    An Opportunity:
    Foreigners entering SG with Covid should pay for their quarantine in 5-star hotels and all the tests/treatment done. Tax-payers should not have to bear the costs. SG is very safe and has it all under control – zero community cases almost everyday. Those who wish to escape from Covid in their countries can come to SG. You will get all the rich people coming here for refuge. After quarantine, they are free to tour around and help boost the economy. Turn adversity into opportunity.

    Why let a crisis put to waste?

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  • Soccerbetting2:

    Reported on the TISG website :Quote -”PM Lee only leader who promised to give migrant workers same access to health careĺ -Vivian Balakrishnan…

    Facebook screengrab: Vivian Balakrishnan

    Anna Maria Romero
    DATE

    December 21, 2020…

    Singapore—Dr Vivian Balakrishnan, the country’s Foreign Affairs Minister, was interviewed on CNBC Asia’s Squawk Box Asia on December 17 to further discuss Singapore’s plans for the Covid-19 vaccine, including giving migrant workers the same access to it.

    Last week, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong announced in a public address (Dec 14) that the country would be entering Phase 3 of reopening, with more restrictions lifted, on Dec 28. Furthermore, he added that the first shipment of the vaccine would be coming by the end of this month and that it would be free for Singaporeans and long-term residents, although it would not be made mandatory.

    A few days later, on International Migrants’ Day (Dec 18), PM Lee wrote in a Facebook post that the vaccine will also be offered to migrant workers,..

    In his CNBC interview, Dr Balakrishnan also said the vaccine would be free for migrant workers, and reminded viewers of promises that PM Lee has made.

    “If I was to rewind time, our Prime Minister, I think, still remains the only leader in the world, who made that assurance that we would treat migrant workers exactly the same as we would citizens, in terms of access to health care, in terms of protection. First point….

    Second point, from a professional and medical perspective, a human being living in Singapore is a human being equally at risk of either getting infected or infecting others. So this is the reason why we do not discriminate on the basis of nationality, for all people domiciled, living, working, in Singapore.”

    The Foreign Affairs Minister also said that the priority for giving out the vaccine would be on “the basis of risk and need” but that the migrant workers would be cared for “to the best of our ability.”

    When one of the interviewers, Sri Jegarajah, said that this was “encouraging news” for the migrant worker community, Dr Balakrishnan said, “It must be so. They work so hard, they sacrifice so much for their families back home. This is humanity. This is common sense. This is public health.”…”Unquote.

    Response :Did Balakrishnan get it wrong ?The word “same access” did not indicate that PM Lee say the country will be paying the bill of corona virus for migrants .Same access mean migrant can get vaccine at polyclinic or hospital with equal treatment out of their own pocket not paid by country funds! If paid by public funds,why don’t Bala ask PM Lee to pay out of his own pocket or Baka himself paid out of his own pocket ! Don’t use public funds !

    Second point on discriminatoon – just charge cost of vaccine plus 10% discount to migrant will do .Singapore cannot be too charity at this period !

    Migrant worker work hard us to pay off their loans debts back home,no big deal !

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  • Billy ma:

    Even if this vaccine is effective for now, one biggest concern is whether will it causes problems later.

    There’re medicines that are being used in the market for a long time & then complications start to surface.

    More so this covid vaccine is like a rush job all round & hence not well tested.

    Personally I will take a wait & wait approach.

    Does lhl taking the vaccine gave me confidence?
    Answer is NO. Not at all.

    Are all the doctors in Singapore taking them now?
    Maybe they’re also not sure. Or they know what we don’t know if the doctors are opting not to take the vaccine now.

    I think it’s a very tough decision for most people to make.

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  • Terrible:

    No wonder they rushed to up the insurance premium by 35%. Where will all these money use to fund? You get the answer and the government want the credit for the vaccine. Voters are always at the losing end of the stick with a burned pocket/wallet.

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