More mad propaganda in the Guardian about the Russian vaccine

This is some kind of crazy article in the Guardian by an epidemiologist called Gideon Meyerowitz-Katz.

It is wrong both clinically – on what the purpose of Phase 3 trials is and in terms of the information it presents about Russia. One can only assume that it passed editorial because it meets the Guardian’s key criteria of being anti-Russia.

This article is astonishingly badly informed. The author claims that only Phase 3 trials check efficacy of a vaccine:

Phase two trials go bigger, with a few hundred people, and usually compare the vaccine against a control to a) make sure that it is triggering an immune response and b) see if there are serious side-effects that the phase one trial missed. Phase three trials are the biggest pre-licensure studies, and they test whether the vaccine actually works – they randomly allocate people into two groups, vaccine versus control, and follow them over months to see if the people who received the vaccine get infected less than people who get the control

This is not true. Phase 2 trials do indeed confirm that a vaccine works. Listen to all the comments from the Jenner Institute in Oxford about their Phase 2 trials to confirm this. The point of Phase 3 trials is in the words of one US government source I checked are to “confirm and expand” on the results of Phase 2). (e.g. check for edge case adverse events). So yes – Phase 2 trials do establish efficacy (it ‘works’). Phase 3 trials are indeed necessary but not for the reasons given by the author i.e that the vaccine “actually works” (a attempt to use an unscientific term to generate smoke).

Let’s consider another of the falsehoods in this article.

Maybe the Russian vaccine is indeed effective. But maybe it only produces an immune response for two weeks, and the hundreds of millions of planned doses do nothing at all to prevent the pandemic. We simply don’t know and, given that it’s being rolled out within a month, perhaps we never will.

The author says the Russian vaccine is being rolled out in a month. In fact what is happening is that the vaccine is being initially offered to teachers and doctors. [1] These people will be able to report their experiences. Mass distribution is not planned until January 2021. Alongside this, controlled (Phase 2) style testing is continuing. The use by teachers and doctors provides an opportunity to do large sample testing (there is an app for them to give feedback) and so in effect Russia is not doing things all that differently from Western pharma.

As for we don’t know how long any immunity conferred will last. This is true. But it is true for all vaccines. This is a lovely example of the way that Western critics of Russia apply a set of standards to Russia which they certainly don’t apply to themselves even when this renders them completely absurd.

It is difficult to know whether the author of this article knows he is writing senseless propaganda or whether he believes it himself. I think Gideon Meyerowitz is probably deliberately lying. I remain astonished at the sheer pathetic hatred that is spewed out by all these liberals about ‘Russia’. What, one can ask, does ‘Russia’ represent for them? What part of their psyches are they having a problem with? Why can’t they accept difference?

Notes

  1. https://rg.ru/2020/08/11/pervymi-vakcinu-ot-koronavirusa-poluchat-mediki-i-uchitelia.html

Author: justinwyllie

EFL Teacher and Photographer