The approved vaccines have passed Phase III, which involves vaccinating thousands of people. It is essential to highlight that the Phase III results of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines have been published in the New England Journal of Medicine 9, 10, possibly the most prestigious and rigorous journal in medicine. Not all the vaccine development projects have gone so well. For example, Sanofi has communicated that its vaccine (based on pieces of the Spike Protein) will be delayed by results in Phases I and II that are not so good in older people.

In Phase III of the Pfizer vaccine, called Comirnaty or BNT162b2, 43,548 people were injected, of which 21,720 received the vaccine and 21,728 a placebo (a mixture of salts and sucrose, without RNA). Of all these people, 170 were infected with COVID-19, but 162 of those infected (95%) corresponded to the group that received the placebo9. On the other hand, the ModeRNA vaccine had similar results after pricking about 30,000 people, half with the vaccine and the other half with placebo10. These Phase III results for the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines imply efficacy of 95%, which is very high considering that flu vaccines we use each winter have been between 30% and 60% effective in the last years 11.

Possibly, this is the most beautiful figure of 2020 :-).
On the left, a graph indicates the efficacy of the Pfizer vaccine, where the cases of contagion accumulate in individuals treated with placebo (blue line), but not in those treated in the vaccine (red line) 9. On the right, a comparable figure for Moderna’s vaccine where accumulated cases in people treated with placebo are represented with the lilac curve, and cases in vaccinated people with the orange line10.

In other words, you have the option of playing a game of life or death, with a goalkeeper who receive a goal with each shot on target (something like having a goat as a goalkeeper), or with a goalkeeper who blocks 95% of all shots on target (kind of like Oblak).

Obviously, the patients who received the placebo instead of the vaccine were not informed to not influence their behavior. Something similar happened to the Bahrain team when they faced Togo in a tournament in Egypt on September 7, 2010. That day, Bahrain, in preparation for the Asian Cup, beat Togo 3-0, but it was not Togo, but a combination of friends of Bana Tchanilé, a man who had been Togo’s coach in the past12. The Togo-placebo effect was revealed when the Togo Football Federation reported a few days later that their team had not traveled to Egypt. Displeasure for Bahrain, and for Bana Tchanilé and his friends who had to give a few explanations about the 200,000 dollars they had charged for playing that match.

Going back to RNA vaccines, some 35,000 people got it in the trials, and thousands of people are being vaccinated in the USA (since December 14) and in Europe (since December 27). No worrisome adverse reactions have been observed in these thousands of people. Considering that, as of today, January 2, 2021, of the more than 82 million infected people13, almost two million (1,833,188) have died, which means that about 2% of those reported infected have died (2,18%) 14. We also know that 10-15% of infected develop severe symptoms, sometimes with sequelae and that approximately 5% need intensive care. Do you think it is better not to take the risk of getting vaccinated and assume the risk of getting it? Seriously, are you going to keep playing with a goat as a goalie?

@raticosdefutbol , @ceronlab


9- Polack FP, et al. Safety and Efficacy of the BNT162b2 mRNA Covid-19 Vaccine. N Engl J Med. 2020 Dec 31;383(27):2603-2615. doi:10.1056/NEJMoa2034577


11- Baden et al. Efficacy and Safety of the mRNA-1273 SARS-CoV-2 Vaccine. N Engl J Med. 2020 Dec 30. doi: 10.1056/NEJMoa2035389.