Should We Line up for a 90% Effective Vaccine?

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There is much excitement about the 90 percent effectiveness reported for the Pfizer vaccine—which is far better than expected. Only three vaccines in 10 years have been more than 50 percent effective.

What this means is that out of 44,000 people who got two doses, 94 have gotten at least one symptom and a positive test for COVID-19: nine people who got the vaccine (about 9 of 22,000 or 0.04%) and 85 of those who got the “placebo” (89 of 22,000 or 0.4%). This means that 99.6% of the unvaccinated group, and 99.96% of the vaccinated group did not get infected with and sick from COVID.

Reported side effects were mild (fatigue, headaches, and chills); the number of volunteers experiencing them and their duration have not yet been reported.

On the presumption that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will grant Emergency Use Authorization before the end of the month, sites are being set up that can immunize at least 975 people in a few days. The vaccine is sent in trays of 975 doses stored at -80 °C that must be used quickly after thawing. Health workers will probably be vaccinated first.

There are many unknowns:

  • The duration of immunity
  • The effect in older people
  • Whether the vaccine prevents severe disease and death
  • Whether the vaccine prevents transmission by people who do not get sick
  • Long-term adverse effects

Get your vaccination when it becomes available—and when your questions are answered to your satisfaction. But with or without vaccination, early at-home treatment is urgently needed to prevent hospitalization and death. As the figure below shows, deaths are 70 percent lower in countries where hydroxychloroquine is used widely and early than in countries where it is not. This is at least as good as most vaccines—and without the adverse effects that could occur in vaccinating vast numbers of healthy people who would never have gotten a serious case of COVID-19.

Download the free patient guide to early at-home treatment: aapsonline.org/covidpatientguide/                

For more information on “Vaccines vs. COVID,” see Civil Defense Perspectives.