L’article reproche aux journalistes mainstream de se montrer peu curieux concernant les déclarations des sociétés pharmaceutiques sur leur #vaccin et de se contenter de répéter les propos lénifiants qu’elles égrènent, alors que ces derniers ont pour principal objectif de faire monter la #cotation en #bourse de leurs #actions et pour principale conséquence de conforter les a-priori des anti-#vaccins.
The press release for Monday’s publication of results from the Oxford vaccine trials described an increased frequency of “minor side effects” among participants. A look at the actual paper, though, reveals this to be a marketing spin that has since been parroted in media reports. (The phrases “minor side effects” or “only minor side effects” appeared in writeups from The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and Reuters, among other outlets.) Yes, mild reactions were far more common than worse ones. But moderate or severe harms—defined as being bad enough to interfere with daily life or needing medical care—were common too. Around one-third of people vaccinated with the Covid-19 vaccine without acetaminophen experienced moderate or severe chills, fatigue, headache, malaise, and/or feverishness. Close to 10 percent had a fever of at least 100.4 degrees, and just over one-fourth developed moderate or severe muscle aches. That’s a lot, in a young and healthy group of people—and the acetaminophen didn’t help much for most of those problems. The paper’s authors designated the vaccine as “acceptable” and “tolerated,” but we don’t yet know how acceptable this will be to most people. If journalists don’t start asking tougher questions, this will become the perfect setup for anti-vaccine messaging: Here’s what they forgot to tell you about the risks …
There is another red flag. Clinical trials for other Covid-19 vaccines have placebo groups, where participants receive saline injections. Only one of the Oxford vaccine trials is taking this approach, however; the others instead compare the experimental treatment to an injected meningococcal vaccine. There can be good reasons to do this: Non-placebo injections may mimic telltale signs that you’ve received an active vaccine, such as a skin reaction, making the trial more truly “blind.” But their use also opens the door to doubt-sowing claims that any harms of the new vaccine are getting buried among the harms already caused by the control-group, “old” vaccines.
Coverage of the Moderna vaccine reflects a different kind of pharma spin : the drip-feeding of selective data via press release. On May 18, Moderna put out some patchy, positive findings on interim outcomes from their first-in-human trial. The company followed that up with a stock offering—and company executives sold off nearly $30 million in shares into the feeding frenzy their press release created.
With last week’s paper from Moderna, results from that same group of people finally had their formal publication. At the same time, the group registered a 30,000-person phase III clinical trial, specifying a pair of 100-microgram injections of the Covid-19 vaccine. According to the press release from May, there were no serious adverse events for the people in that particular dosage group. But last week’s paper shows the full results: By the time they’d had two doses, every single one was showing signs of headaches, chills, or fatigue, and for at least 80 percent, this could have been enough to interfere with their normal activities. A participant who had a severe reaction to a particularly high dose has talked in detail about how bad it was: If reactions even half as bad as this were to be common for some of these vaccines, they will be hard sells once they reach the community—and there could be a lot of people who are reluctant to get the second injection.