Media Hypes Moderna’s COVID Vaccine, Downplays Risks
For the second time in a week, news of a “promising” COVID-19 vaccine sent global stock markets on a joy ride and triggered an avalanche of positive news stories which, for the most part, avoided any killjoy questions about vaccine safety or transparency.
Both announcements came in the form of press releases — with neither company providing the actual data behind their claims. Though efficacy rates in the ninetieth percentile were enough to make Wall Street and most media outlets swoon, at least one publication, STAT, pointed out what the companies themselves didn’t: Both trials are ongoing, and as they continue, efficacy rates could decline, as “it’s often the case that a vaccine performs less well in the real world than it does in the setting of a clinical trial.”
STAT also noted that neither company can yet say how long the vaccine, which in both cases is administered in two doses, will provide protection as that “can only be determined over time as large numbers of people are vaccinated.“
Both drugmakers said they will seek Emergency Use Authorization from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for their experimental vaccines as soon as they meet the criteria. The authorization, which allows vaccine makers to skip standard mandatory safety and compliance inspection of their vaccine manufacturing facilities, is a winner-takes-all-prize awarded exclusively to the first COVID vaccine approved by the FDA.
Both announcements triggered sharp increases in the companies’ stock prices. Moderna stock shot up by nearly15% on Monday. According to STAT, “Every Tuesday Moderna’s top doctor gets about $1million richer” by selling his existing stock like clockwork through pre-scheduled trades, “earning him more than $50 million since the dawn of the pandemic.”
Moderna’s news also buoyed stock prices of companies that stand to benefit from the economy reopening, including airlines, cruise ships and banks.
Last week, Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla raised eyebrows when he sold $5.6 million of Pfizer stock on the same day the vaccine maker made its “90% effective” announcement. Reporting on the sale, NPR said it was part of an increasingly controversial stock-trading plan that “aims to shield corporate executives from allegations of illegal insider trading plans.” The plan — which is legal but not without questions about abuse — allows major shareholders to sell a predetermined number of shares at a predetermined time and is often used by corporate executives to avoid accusations of insider trading.
So much praise, so few questions
For all the media hype surrounding how fast the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines will be ready, how many billions of doses will be available, who will be the first to get them and how the vaccines will get us all back to “normal,” there’s been little scrutiny of news from from the standpoint of safety and proven efficacy.
That’s a mistake, according to Mary Holland, Children’s Health Defense’s (CHD) general counsel.
“To imagine that Moderna’s unlicensed COVID vaccine, tested for under a year, will be safe is wishful thinking,” Holland said. “There’s a reason vaccine producers insist on blanket indemnification from injuries and deaths.”
Holland is referring to the fact that vaccine makers, already immune from liability for vaccine injuries under the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act of 1986, were granted expanded protection via the Declaration Under the Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness (PREP) Act for Medical Countermeasures Against COVID-19 in March.
In fact, as Holland pointed out — in the EU, at least — officials expect a high volume of adverse vaccines as evidenced by this recent notice by the Medical and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency which is “urgently” seeking an “Artificial Intelligence (AI) software tool to process the expected high volume of COVID-19 vaccine Adverse Drug Reaction …”
Why so many secrets?
Vaccine safety and transparency go hand-in-hand, and Moderna gets low marks on both. The company, formed in 2010 and rebranded in 2016, has yet to produce a single commercial vaccine. Still, Moderna was able to enroll in Operation Warp Speed, a highly secretive public-private partnership, dominated by military personnel, most of whom have no experience in healthcare or vaccine production. Participation in the program means that taxpayers are footing a big chun
Article from LewRockwell