It’s a good thing AstraZeneca makes a good vaccine… and perhaps that’s where all their money goes… because their PR/marketing/outreach/spin-control department certainly isn’t as world-class.
First, the whole blood-clot non-issue that spun out of control. It’s since spun back, but not before permanently eroding confidence in that vaccine among many people; irreparable damage.
Hours after that was all cleared up, another scandal, this one to do with reporting efficacy data… AZ reporting 79%, but then being accused of cherry-picking data, and that the number is probably closer to 69%. Their questionable data and the questionable inclusion/exclusion will all be sorted out in the next 48 hours, but, once again, “irrefutable” ammo for the anti-vax camp. “See, they’re lying to us.”
One number that isn’t in dispute is a number that agrees with the other relevant (to us) vaccines… AZ, Moderna and Pfizer… and all of the regulators who scrutinize their results, collectively, will tell you that 2 weeks after receiving a single jab of any of those three, your chances of getting seriously ill go down to zero. Zero is a bold claim, but there has yet to be a case of a hospitalization from someone who’s had one shot and given it a chance to kick-in. And no, it’s not zero if you count the guy who went home to celebrate, got drunk, fell over, hit his head and wound up back at the E.R…. but I do mean that nobody has developed serious C19 symptoms.
It’s so unfortunate that this recent messaging will most certainly cause hesitancy among those still on the fence, especially because aside from what I just said with respect to it preventing serious illness, at the end of the day, a 69% chance of getting a mild cold is not a lot different than a 79% chance. On top of that, when the “real” results are published, it may end up being what they originally claimed. Or higher. It certainly won’t be lower.
Last year, when the concept of vaccines for C19 was still being discussed, when the question of “Can we even develop a vaccine for this?” was being asked, efficacies of 60% would’ve been considered a great success. 70%? Awesome.
The 95% that Moderna and Pfizer came up with is off the charts, but here’s the thing… imagine you’re stepping up to bat at Fenway Park in Boston. Off to your left, 310 feet away and 37 feet tall is “The Green Monster” – that wall so famously targeted by all right-handed hitters whose only desire it to sail a ball over it. So you step up and uncork a “Moderna” — 395-foot crushing home run. Or maybe a “Pfizer” – a 394-foot homer.
Or… a lesser “AstraZeneca” – only 369 feet in the air. But guess what, it counts – exactly the same as the other two… and when you cross home plate, having just won the World Series with that hit, nobody is bringing out the tape-measure to see how far it went.
Perhaps not the most applicable metaphor, but it’s true in the sense that if all we had was the AZ vaccine and we were all taking it at the same pace as the other two, the further development and eventual end of this pandemic would likely look very similar. Nobody is adding up the length of the home-runs that were hit. It’s the final score that counts, and that’s what gets reported. Even by AZ, who even though is not so good at messaging, at least can hit a ball/develop a great vaccine.