Today is an important day for the Pfizer/BioNTech coronavirus vaccine.
In the United Kingdom, the first doses are being given, predominantly to those over the age of eighty. The recipients will need a second dose in three weeks.
In the United States, the Food and Drug Administration has published a 53-page review of the Pfizer/BioNTech data and confirmed the findings of safety and 95% efficacy. This clears the way for a public hearing on Thursday and possible emergency use authorization within days. Distribution will start within 24 hours of approval.
It is good that so much of the data is now public because you can see that the vaccine is safe and effective across different age, racial, and comorbidity groups. There is also evidence that some protection develops from the first of the two doses, although the highest level of protection begins about a week after the second dose.
As a Pfizer trial participant, I expect to hear back from the researchers shortly after the approval goes through. Pfizer plans to offer the vaccine to people in the placebo group in order to continue their long-term study on efficacy and safety. Among our family in the study, we expect that we have two who have already received two doses of the vaccine and one who is in the placebo group.
I can assure you that the suspected placebo person is anxious to join the vaccine group as soon as possible!
Our family physicians’ practice has a research department that works in conjunction with national trials. I have done several studies with them in the past, including vaccines for seasonal flu and adult RSV (respiratory syncytial virus).
I got a call the other day because they are signing people up for a SARS-CoV-2 vaccine trial. This is the virus that causes COVID-19. It will be a two-year study looking at the effectiveness of the study vaccine. I qualified and enrolled in the study, as did spouse B and daughter T.
We don’t know whether this vaccine will prove to be effective or for how long, but we are committed to being part of the process to find out. Even if it isn’t protective, that information will be helpful in the search for finding a vaccine that is.
They are looking for more participants. If you are in the Binghamton NY area and are interested, please contact me for a referral to the researchers who can provide full information about the study. You may leave a message in the comments so we can work out how to communicate privately or contact me through Facebook Messenger or email if we are already connected.
Besides joining in with Linda’s One-Liner Wednesdays, my other Wednesday staple is facilitating a spirituality study group at my church. For the last decade at least, this group has been all women – with me, at 54, the youngest in attendance.
Today, a young man joined us.
He is about the age of my daughters, in his twenties, which makes him the age of some of the grandchildren of the other women.
It’s going to be an adjustment. Part of it is the gender difference. Part of it is the age difference. The biggest adjustment, though, is that most of the women in this class have been studying and pondering spiritual topics for decades and have a lot of background and experience with different authors’ perspective. Even for us, Richard Rohr, whose book Immortal Diamond we are currently studying, is sometimes difficult to grasp at first hearing, as the concepts are so deep and rich. It must be daunting to be thrown into the midst of the book with no preparation.
I will have to contemplate how best to offer background and explanations.
If the poor man is brave enough to return next week…