Why the Pfizer and BioNTech vaccine is a cause for optimism — and skepticism

  • By cvbizz
  • November 10, 2020
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Pedestrians walk past Pfizer headquarters in New York City on July 22. | Jeenah Moon/Getty Images

Vaccine science by press release has to stop.

On Monday morning, my mom sent me a text message: “Black cloud is lifting … Pfizer has a 90 percent effective vaccine.” She was one of the many people buoyed by the announcement from the drugmaker that early data suggests its Covid-19 vaccine — developed with the German biotech firm BioNTech — can prevent infection with the deadly disease.

What my mom missed, by no fault of her own, was that the news didn’t come with any detailed data, regulatory review, published study, or preprint. In fact, the trial isn’t even completed.

Instead, it was the latest instance of “science by press release” in the coronavirus pandemic.

In the race to stop the virus, drug companies, research groups, and

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