A vaccine for COVID seems to be (almost) here… or is it? What’s hype/ what’s real beyond the headlines (and beyond the press release), when it comes to the announcement earlier this week from Pfizer and BioNTech that their vaccine candidate was found to be more than 90% effective in preventing COVID-19? Of course, this was just the first interim efficacy analysis — so how close or far are we? What’s the significance of the readout and case numbers? How do we put this (and related approaches, like Moderna’s) in context of all the other (458!) programs in development? And how much should/ shouldn’t we read into this news?
After all, it’s “difficult to evaluate science via press release”, as some say. So in this episode of 16 Minutes with a16z bio general partners Vineeta Agarwala and Jorge Conde in conversation with Sonal Chokshi, we break it all down: the math, the science, and the practical considerations — from “vaccine efficacy” vs. efficiency, from cold chains to distribution, from patients to the system… as well as from the past, to present future of, vaccines.
references and readings cited in this episode:
- BioCentury.com/coronavirus, COVID-19 therapies and vaccines: Clinical; COVID-19 therapies and vaccines: Preclinical; COVID-19 Clinical Trial Dashboard, November 2020
- “Vaccine Efficacy 101: A biostatistician’s primer“, Natalie E. Dean, Twitter, September 2020
- “Understanding COVID-19 vaccine efficacy“, Marc Lipsitch and Natalie E. Dean, Science, November 2020
- “Covid-19 vaccine from Pfizer and BioNTech is strongly effective, early data from large trial indicate“, Matthew Herper (with Helen Branswell), STAT, November 2020
- “A Framework for Equitable Allocation of Vaccine for the Novel Coronavirus“, National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, October 2020 [report highlights pdf] [full report web preview]
- “I was part of a trial for Pfizer’s Covid-19 vaccine. It’s a miracle for genetic medicine.“, Walter Isaacson, Washington Post, November 2020
- “On Vaccines and Vaccinology, in COVID and Beyond“, with Rajeev Venkayya & Jorge Conde, a16z Podcast, August 2020