For the second time in a week, news of a “promising” COVID-19 vaccine sent global stock markets on a joy ride and triggered an avalanche of positive news stories which, for the most part, avoided any killjoy questions about vaccine safety or transparency.
On Monday, Moderna announced that its mRNA-1273 COVID vaccine candidate was 94.5% effective, based on interim Phase 3 trial data.
Last week Pfizer announced that analysis of preliminary Phase 3 trial data indicated its BNT162b2 COVID vaccine, developed in partnership with Germany’s BioNTech, was “more than 90% effective.”
Both announcements came in the form of press releases — with neither company providing the actual data behind their claims. Though efficacy rates in the ninetieth percentile were enough to make Wall Street and most media outlets swoon, at least one publication, STAT, pointed out what the companies themselves didn’t: Both trials are ongoing, and as they continue, efficacy rates could decline, as “it’s often the case that a vaccine performs less well in the real world than it does in the setting of a clinical trial.”