Optimism on Pfizer COVID vaccine is unwarranted

SUMMARY: Pfizer’s 90 percent effectiveness is very impressive, but the rate is based on a relatively small number of people and the data has not been peer-reviewed but today headlines rule the news, not content.

You need to ask yourself why in the hell Pfizer’s CEO would say that their vaccine is 90% effective when there is a lot more testing and review of data needed. The answer lies in looking at Pfizer’s stock price which shot up on the news as well as the false optimism of the stock market.

Pfizer’s results are promising and are coming at a time when the world is anxiously awaiting positive news. However, there’s still a long way to go before researchers can be certain that this vaccine is indeed as effective as promised. But the public needs good news with COVID infection rates reaching new levels.

A 90 percent effectiveness is indeed very impressive—it’s on par with some of the most successful vaccines, similar to the measles shot. However, the rate is based on a relatively small number of people, and it isn’t clear from the publicly available data just how many of those infected volunteers received the placebo.

Pharma CEOs still are more concerned about their company’s stock price than patents. Biogen shot up when an initial review of their Alzheimer’s drug was positive, but then analysts torpedoed the company when another FDA panel said there wasn’t enough data. Pfizer’s stock also went up on news of their vaccine efficacy because the Street is gambling that Pfizer could make a LOT of money if the vaccine is 90% effective.

The media has not been helpful. Headline promote “90% efficacy” but too many fail to talk about the path to full approval and the fact that the vaccine could still fail.

When a vaccine is available, you can also bet that people will form long lines to get vaccinated even though there is skepticism about vaccine safety. I spoke to some retail pharmacists, and they all said they dread the chaos that is sure to follow once a vaccine is approved, even if it goes to older patients first.

The mood of people in this country is pessimistic when it comes to COVID. Some people haven’t been out to eat for almost a year, and others are tired of being afraid all the time. The media knows this, and they also know COVID stories get clicks, which leads to more ad revenue. It’s a never-ending cycle.

Our imbecile lame duck President is saying that Pfizer and the FDA conspired to release the news after the election. It’s sad, really.

Pfizer’s CEO should have kept his mouth shut until they had a lot more data but at least the stock is up and that, today, is what it’s all about.