The beginning of the end

No, not the end of the beginning:

The Pfizer/BioNTech coronavirus vaccine has been approved by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) for use in the UK, paving the way for mass vaccination to start.

Officials said the vaccine will be made available “from next week”.

As with other pandemics, vaccination does mean the end of the problem. Sure, manufacturing volumes and all that but some months and we’re done. All we’ve got to do then is pay for all the politicians have done over the past year.

36 thoughts on “The beginning of the end”

  1. You’ve got more chance of seeing a hog roast and beer festival at a mosque than of seeing me take that vaccine.

    I’ll take it when I am convinced it is safe. I think about 20 or 30 years should suffice.

  2. Do Pfizer have a mass-production process ready? Do we have the infrastructure of freezers? The existing infrastructure is already taken up with flu jabs

  3. Apparently the Cryogenic Warfare Corps will handle the distribution of this wonder drug designed to attenuate the symptoms of Covid.

  4. So Much For Subtlety

    Trump is out of office it seems. There is little more political mileage to be had from Co-chan. I imagine it will gradually fade away once Biden is installed in the White House.

  5. “You’ve got more chance of seeing a hog roast and beer festival at a mosque than of seeing me take that vaccine.”

    Ditto here, for the Pfizer/Moderna ones. Both are auto-immune diseases in a syringe. If I am forced to have one I’ll have the Oxford one. It probably won’t work, but at least it won’t make your body try to eat itself.

  6. I can only echo BiW and Jim above. The Pfizer/Moderna vaccines are highly experimental and have been rushed through trials. We, the public, are to be their petri dish. The Oxford one is more traditional. So, if I’m backed into a corner, I’ll insist upon that one.

    Ask anyone who has Lupus what it’s like to have an autoimmune disease.

  7. Diogenes, they started manufacturing at scale during the trial, such was their confidence in its marketability. There’s a huge stockpile waiting to ship.

    Not that I expect to have a realistic choice, but I will happily be at the back of the queue. I don’t doubt it works, or that it’s basically safe, but my risk of suffering anything unpleasant from covid is zero (cos I already had it), so no benefit/risk calculation is positive for me.

    There is the little matter of getting our freedoms back, and working out how best to serve up some cold revenge for the global political overreach. Clearly human rights aren’t worth the paper they are printed on. Not when everyone is being fucked over, at least.

  8. Clearly human rights aren’t worth the paper they are printed on.

    As I’ve said here many times before there’s no such thing as rights. Except as a technical legal term. There are only obligations.
    What you’ve seen this year is the State withdrawing many of the obligation to the public the public pays for & heaping an enormous range of obligations on the public. And it ain’t finished yet. We’ll next be obliged to pay for it.

  9. @rhoda

    Different strains of influenza, hence different jabs each year. Covid appears not to have mutated into such different strains that vaccines are ineffective, although the efficacy of the vaccines does appear to be in 50-60% range. Which means that we need to vaccinate a big chunk of the population to create herd immunity. And inevitably with the general reaction above, it’s going to be a slog.

    This is the background to the Modena, Pfizer mRNA vaccines.
    https://www.nature.com/articles/nrd.2017.243

    Various forms exist:
    “Two major types of RNA are currently studied as vaccines: non-replicating mRNA and virally derived, self-amplifying RNA. Conventional mRNA-based vaccines encode the antigen of interest and contain 5′ and 3′ untranslated regions (UTRs), whereas self-amplifying RNAs encode not only the antigen but also the viral replication machinery that enables intracellular RNA amplification and abundant protein expression.”

  10. I’m told you can only open the freezer container twice before the ambient air warms the drug too much, so the wastage will be something to behold, especially at forty quid a pop. Even if we give the job to Captain Birdseye instead of the NHS we’ll still lose a lot of jabs.

  11. philip – I agree: Captain Birdseye’s timbers would shiver at -70° but we could instead ask him to insert a few fishfingers quite roughly into Matt Handcock.

  12. Attempting to create herd immunity via vaccine for diseases with such low lethality is a very expensive fool’s errand. The covid vaccine, like flu vaccines, should be targeted at the people most likely to die if they get infected. And if it really is 90% effective at preventing infection, who needs herd immunity anyway?

  13. And if it really is 90% effective at preventing infection

    Yes, but is it and is it even meant to? I understood that the initial spec was purely to make the symptoms milder and presumably in consequence less dangerous to the vulnerable.Have I missed something?

  14. Given that no one (R) no one has yet successfully isolated a pure sample of the Covid19 virus, HTF can a drug company claim to have created (in record time) a vaccine that is 90/95% effective against that virus?
    Some very expensive class-action suits in the pipeline. Short Pfizer et al.

  15. Ken, I’m sceptical. I am right to be sceptical of something which has been rushed through aided by political pressure derived from the helplessness of politicians to handle the crisis they manufactured. And then it turns out it’s a new type of vaccine. That too tends to support a sceptical approach.

    I am also concerned that anyone expressing what I call reasonable scepticism is now labelled an anti-vaxxer in some quarters, and that there is an apparent campaign to suppress such doubts being expressed at all. And by the suggestion that the vaccine (the magic vaccine, no matter which firm has made it) might be made actually compulsory or de facto compulsory by restricting the rights of non-vaccinated people. I think the useless government will bottle out of the mandatory option but will (already is, in fact) encourage private sector companies to ban the unanointed.

  16. And of course it has been tested on young, fit, healthy people to be used on old, unfit, unhealthy people. From what I’ve read, the Oxford-Astra virus is a graft of the Spike protein onto an adapted DNA virus, so there is the possibility it might produce the wrong kind of auto-immune response. In macaques it stops severe infections but does not kill the virus in the upper airways, so they can still pass on the disease. The Pfizer vaccine doesn’t carry those specific risks but it depends on your system responding in the right way to kill the Spike that the RNA in the vaccine wants to make…. All in all, I’d rather wait until we know how it works in people with impaired auto-immune systems. Tim is welcome to test it for me, however

  17. Diogenes, they started manufacturing at scale during the trial, such was their confidence in its marketability.

    Wasn’t that Trump’s Operation Warpspeed? Get a head start by having the companies start producing the promising vaccines before testing is complete – with a promise to pay for the run if it’s aborted. That’s confidence inspiring for a drug company.

  18. I’ve officially had, and recovered from, COVID-19. My wife, who has had absolutely no symptoms whatsoever, has shared isolation with me… I assume that I now have acquired immunity and my wife must have innate immunity. WTF should we bother with shonky vaccines?

    Anybody sufficiently “into” immunology to give a serious answer?

  19. TMB, ideally you’d study all-cause death as the primary endpoint. The problem is of course that the thing is so non-lethal, particularly in the kind of population that signs up for this type of trial, that you would have to do an unfeasibly enormous trial of very long duration to show any effect of the vaccine on mortality. A trial with death as endpoint just isn’t possible, even for Pfizer.

    Not getting infection is a pretty good surrogate however, as if you don’t get infected you can’t die of this cause. It also enables you to make carefully curated statements about “90% effective” based on a hazard ratio, that ignores the overwhelming majority of people who then have to get treated without actually being at risk of harm beyond a week or two of influenza-like illness from the natural infection, whereas an “all-cause mortality” endpoint is going to show a much, much weaker effect as far too many patients will inconveniently die of things other than covid.

  20. Baron,

    I am not a doctor or immunologist or anything more than a retired electronics engineer, but from my extensive reading on the current situation I would answer your question like this:

    No! There is no-one sufficiently into immunology who can give a definitive answer to your question. Not even the best immunologists in the world know enough about viruses or the human immune system(s) to answer that question. (Although there are any number of ‘experts’ prepared to give you an answer. Indeed that is why the ‘experts’ are currently held in such high esteem.)

  21. The Pfizer product is not a vaccine in the usual sense where a deactivated or denatured virus is injected, instead a nucleic acid messenger to produce viral material inside the body is injected. It is the first of its kind to be used on Humans. BioNTech specialises in messenger RNA to target cancer cells and tag them to be destroyed by the immune system.

    Vaccination for immunisation is supposed to precede and thus prevent epidemic, but the epidemic was over in early Summer… bit late now.

    However the ‘vaccine’ is not claimed as being intended to produce widespread immunity, but rather to prevent or reduce severity of symptoms in vulnerable people.

    Since most of the population is immune already either from cross-over immunity from other virus, or having acquired immunity through contact, a vaccine at this point serves only as a political expedient and a money spinner for the pharmas.

  22. TMB
    “And if it really is 90% effective at preventing infection

    Yes, but is it and is it even meant to? I understood that the initial spec was purely to make the symptoms milder and presumably in consequence less dangerous to the vulnerable.Have I missed something?”

    The Human trials were carried out on about 40 000 young, healthy volunteers in USA, Europe and Turkey split into two groups. This was not a controlled trial where both groups were exposed to infection. Instead they were followed up in their communities and tested regularly. Presumably they were subject to restrictions and mask wearing, and the trial took place in Summer months when such virus are at a very low level of activity.

    Since the trajectory of the virus has differed with locality, and since it just wouldn’t be possible to know how often trial members were in contact with the virus or if at all, or which members had cross-over immunity (as a large percentage of people do) it is difficult to see how any meaningful conclusions can be drawn from the ‘trial’.

    Certainly since it has not been tried in vulnerable subjects, side effects, short and long term, and contraindications cannot be known.

    That the product was manufactured in finished does-form in June/July indicates Human trials were just for show. It brings new meaning to,the expression ‘show trial’.

  23. It is a controlled trial, there is a control group. Deliberate exposure to infection is a “challenge trial”. There are some such going on with vaccine candidates.

    As long as treatment randomisation was adequately stratified then exposure is likely to be similar across groups. Certainly the headline numbers are impressive, for the endpoint of choice and I think we can conclude the Pfizer vaccine is indeed very good at preventing infection. You rarely see efficacy that high in anything, I don’t think latent selection bias or anything else is sufficient to impeach the conclusion.

    I don’t think we can rule out how many vulnerable subjects were treated. The trial was really not restrictive of participation, in fact it was about as open as you can get. There was, for example, no upper age limit. In practice you don’t get a lot of 95 year olds volunteering for clinical trials because there aren’t many around, those that are are often institutionalised which puts them ethically off limits (despite that being the population at serious risk from covid).

    The most important open scientific question is who needs this and where. All the other questions are political.

  24. “There is no-one sufficiently into immunology who can give a definitive answer to your question. Not even the best immunologists in the world know enough about viruses or the human immune system(s) to answer that question. ”

    This is true, but Occam’s razor tells us this behaves as any other virus does, specifically as any other coronavirus. Meaning that immunity arising from prior exposure is going to be present in a high number of patients (though not 100%), offer highly effective protection against future infection (though not 100%), and that protection will be long-lasting, years to decades.

    Those scaremongers claiming that you can get the same thing over and over again are the ones bearing the burden of proof.

    I agree essentially with JohnB that the primary effect of the vaccine is to grant the politicians a get-out from the current situation. What the fuck we will let them do when the next bad ‘flu hits, who knows. I’m amazed at what we let them get away with this time.

  25. Not taking the vax or any govt shite for not taking it.

    Millions wont and not enuf plod for them to be fighting in the street.

    Second class citizen plans? They would have to change the law. Try refusing a known homosexual goods or going into your shop as he might have AIDS. Not a chance. People who think the scummy state are going to create countless Rosa Parks scenarios but succeed in forcing her to the back of the bus every time–or even once– are deluded.

  26. S’OK Ecks (and welcome back) there will be a yellow star badge for the unvaccinated, just as an aid to making you safe, of course.

  27. Lots of commentators haven’t read the reports or just refuse to believe them.
    There is not-quite-infinite human variability so no guarantees but BioNTech has got a 90%-ish success rate on young healthy volunteers showing no symptoms which sounds pretty good to me. The Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine is reported to be equally effective on old people like me so I shall ask for that one.
    I shall certainly take the vaccine – a couple of years ago my elder son was put on an immunosuppressant drug to treat his asthma so I want to be totally confident I can’t be a Covid-19 carrier before seeing him at short range.

  28. Ecks, they won’t need plod to enforce it. As Rhoda says, no pass, no shopping. Those of a Christian persuasion will see the mark of the beast in what they have planned.

    Changing the law is a breeze. Haven’t you noticed?

    I suspect Refuseniks are in for a good few years of pain. Could be much longer, seeing as the media is completely on-narrative, so even widespread side effects and blatant lack of efficacy (not because the vaccine doesn’t work but because the epidemic has run its course) will not prise the 80% of panicked terrified mask-wearing denouncers of covidiots like us out of their comfortable paranoia.

    I think this is possibly the first ever global mass psychosis phenomenon.

  29. “I think this is possibly the first ever global mass psychosis phenomenon.”

    Did you overlook climate change, BiG? Even our host appears to have succumbed to that one.

  30. I don’t think that’s the same at all. 40+years of environmental schlock have seen people …

    wait for it …

    switch to bamboo coffee cups.

    I’m not saying that global warming doesn’t have its fair share of swivel-eyed prophets of doom, of course it does. But the population as a whole? On a revealed preferences basis, it is very far removed from coviphrenia.

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