Wednesday, October 20

The Pfizer vaccine: from euphoria to doubts about its viability among the scientific community


If it passes all the trials, the Pfizer vaccine could reach Spain at the beginning of 2021. |

If it passes all the trials, the Pfizer vaccine could reach Spain at the beginning of 2021. |
ANTONIO AMORÓS

It could be said that the high efficiency of the covid-19 vaccine developed by the American pharmaceutical company Pfizer It is the best advertisement the world has collectively received since last March. The possibility of having found a remedy that allows, in the very short term, to immunize a good part of the population against the new coronavirus has filled with euphoria not only the stock exchange of the companies participating in the trial, but also the bar get-togethers, family conversations and dreams of hundreds of thousands of citizens who fear every day, above all, of being infected with SARS-CoV 2. However, the scientific community still has reservations. And, while hopeful, he believes that Pfizer’s announcement is still too premature: “This is good news, news that encourages the population, but it must be taken with caution.”

The effectiveness of the compound, which population does it immunize, how does it act with people according to their age group, how long its effect lasts, if vaccinated people can infect it or the need to keep it at -80º Celsius are some of the issues that have raised the doubts of some scientists, who miss independent research and Above all, knowing the trial data in depth before making a more in-depth judgment, regardless of what we all know by now.

They demand that the Government specify which groups will receive the 10 million doses that will arrive first

Jose Tuells, a professor at the University of Alicante, an expert in Public Health and Preventive Medicine, considers that the advancement of results by the US pharmaceutical company and its German partner BioNtech is still «very partial and little explained: we only know what they wanted to tell us». The expert has no doubts that if the FDA – the United States Food and Drug Administration – has allowed this announcement to be made, it is because “it has used its control mechanisms to verify it”, but still considers that the reports are not known either issued by this body.

To this is added what this expert defines as “Logistics problems” that, once approved, could make the application of this vaccine difficult. The first of them, the preservation of the cold chain, mainly because, according to what is known about the Pfizer formula, the doses must be kept at -80 degrees and hospitals and health centers lack systems that allow freezing at such low temperatures. Therefore, in parallel to the mass manufacture of the vaccine itself, suitable refrigerators would also have to be manufactured, when the vaccines being developed by other laboratories, which in the opinion of Tuells could soon make similar announcements to Pfizer’s, do not need such low temperatures .

José Tuels: “The information we have is still very partial, we know what they wanted to tell us”

The also director of the Balmis Chair of Vaccination points out as another question how the 20 million doses that, according to the central government, could reach Spain in early 2021 will be distributed if their distribution is finally approved. Although the minister Salvador Illa has explained that there is a working group with the autonomous communities and the Ministry to set the parameters, and when there is also a broad consensus that health workers and the elderly should receive the first doses, José Tuells regrets that there is still no plan Clearly establish who will be the 10 million Spaniards who will be immunized in a first round.

Finally, it indicates that this first phase of vaccination would still be “very insufficient” to achieve herd immunity: “Although there are those who speak of 60%, herd immunity is achieved when you vaccinate 80% of the population; with 85% you guarantee that there will be no regrowth and, to eliminate a disease you have to vaccinate more than 90%. For the coronavirus, I estimate that there will be no possibility of mass production for the entire population until well into 2022 ».

Jose Antonio Forcada, president of the National Association of Nursing and Vaccines and responsible for vaccines of the Valencian Community Nursing Council (Cecova), considers a «Great news»The announcement from Pfizer about the effectiveness of its vaccine but also believes that we must wait for the publication of the studies in an independent scientific journal to be able to draw more conclusions. For this expert, the most positive thing about the moment in which we find ourselves is that, in addition to the 10 million Spaniards who could be recipients of this vaccine, there is another also very advanced, that of AstraZeneca, with which others could be vaccinated 7.5 million people: “It is a slow process, no one believes that in two days we will all be vaccinated”, he points out, adding that “the important thing is that worldwide in two or three years it could be 70% vaccinated of the population ».

José Antonio Forcada: “The lack of nurses and anti-vaccines can be a burden. People need to be informed”

Among the logistical problems pointed out by Forcada, which largely coincide with those of Tuells, there is also the serious lack of health personnel, Mainly Nursing, which carries Primary Care, where the population will be vaccinated. “It would be necessary to start a massive hiring of nurses to be able to attend and vaccinate in a rational way,” says this expert.

Finally, Forcada also believes that the lack of information and the powerful anti-vaccine movement could be a drag when it comes to advancing in the immunity against covid-19. For this reason, he clarifies that “any vaccine that is approved and that reaches us will be totally safe.”


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