A lot of people are tweeting about how this new Pfizer vaccine finding has not been peer-reviewed. That's true, but it's also important to understand that academic peer-review is not the only way to be scientifically rigorous... 🧵
In the case of clinical trials, there are a number of methods to keep bias out of data. One is to "blind" the trial, so that both patients and those administering the vaccine don't know who gets the drug and who gets the placebo. This trial was fully blinded.
In other words, patients, scientists, clinicians, and even Pfizer executives had no idea who got the vaccine and who didn't. Only a small team of statisticians and medical monitors remained unblinded to keep the trial on track. They had no direct contact with the trial team.
Additionally, this trial is overseen by a Data Monitoring Committee (DMC), a group of scientists and clinicians supposedly free of conflicts of interest and bias (though I think we're all biased towards a positive outcome of this vaccine trial).
My understanding is that the DMC and FDA determine when to "unblind" sections of the trial. Unblinding can happen before trial completion in part to learn of safety issues, or once enough trial participants have been infected to have SOME indication of whether its working.
But these unblindings happen only at pre-determined points. In this case, the decision was made to unblind after a minimum of 62 COVID-19 cases in trial participants. Presumably that minimum would give SOME indication of whether the vaccine was working.
In fact they unblinded at 94 participants infected. That's far short of the 164 needed to conclude the trial, but definitely enough to determine efficacy. And the conclusion is that the vaccine is more than 90% effective, a very high number/strong signal.
There's a lot still to learn including:

✅The actual efficacy (which could still be below 90%)

✅Whether protection is afforded across demographic groups.

✅The length the vaccine might work.

✅Whether the vaccine causes side-effects (though some safety work has been done).
But at this point I think it's reasonably to say this is more than science by press-release. There is every indication this vaccine is doing something to protect people against SARS-CoV-2. That's good news.
Now would peer-review be better still? Oh definitely. For sure. Hopefully we'll see it in the future. And hopefully we'll know more once the trial reaches 164 cases and is fully unblinded.

Also, this winter is still going to be bad. Wear a mask, keep distance. Take care.
Here are a few sources about the trial that I used for this thread.

Pfizer's announcement:

The study protocol:

FDA guidance on DMCs:


• • •

Missing some Tweet in this thread? You can try to force a refresh

Keep Current with Geoff Brumfiel

Geoff Brumfiel Profile picture

Stay in touch and get notified when new unrolls are available from this author!

Read all threads

This Thread may be Removed Anytime!


Twitter may remove this content at anytime! Save it as PDF for later use!

Try unrolling a thread yourself!

how to unroll video
  1. Follow @ThreadReaderApp to mention us!

  2. From a Twitter thread mention us with a keyword "unroll"
@threadreaderapp unroll

Practice here first or read more on our help page!

More from @gbrumfiel

9 Sep
HI EVERYBODY! Over the past few days, I've been thinking a lot about this mysterious airstrip in China.

This is the place where @planet4589 @Marco_Langbroek @DutchSpace and others think China's new space plane landed on 6 Sept... (photo 8 Sep via @planetlabs).

Let's talk!
First off, if you're in need of big picture view, check out this story featuring @brianweeden and @planet4589, which gives a nice summary of where things stand (an audio version also be on @npratc tonight!).

Now that you're caught up, let's GET TO IT!

The airstrip literally appeared out of nowhere in 2016. It's on the edge of an old Chinese nuclear test site called Lop Nur (sometimes Lop Nor). And it's unusual for a couple of reasons....

Read 18 tweets
24 Jul
President Trump keeps saying that sooner or later SARS-CoV-2 will "disappear."

But this idea that somehow the pandemic will burn itself out doesn't hold up. Here's why. (DEPRESSING-ISH FRI THREAD)

First, the theory: It's known as "herd immunity". If enough people catch COVID-19 and recover, and if they are immune, then the entire population will be protected. Estimates vary widely, but somewhere between 50%-80% of a given pop would need to catch COVID for this to work.
Herd immunity is real, but historically only discussed in terms of vaccination campaigns.

For example, if 95% of a population is vaccinated against measles (very contagious) then a single case cannot spread into the community.
Read 16 tweets
28 Jan
Wow. Wow. Wow. Reading through the criminal complaint against nanotechnology researcher Charles Lieber at Harvard (courtsey of @relucasz). This is nuts.

Lieber was offered $50,000 a month and $150K+ for collaborating with Wuhan University of Technology.
@relucasz The FBI alleges that this was part of China's Thousand Talents Program, to recruit Western researchers and steal intellectual property.

Lieber was offered cash (and apparently accepted).
@relucasz Wuhan University established the WUT-Harvard Joint Nano Key Laboratory based on the agreement with Lieber... But HARVARD never knew anything about it. When they found out about it in 2015, Lieber denied everything.
Read 5 tweets
30 Aug 19
NEW: President Trump Tweets Sensitive Surveillance Image of Iran

(with comments from @nktpnd and @mhanham )
@nktpnd @mhanham To recap, earlier today, President Trump tweeted a REALLY clear picture of an accident at Iran's space launch facility. The picture is far better quality than what the best commercial satellites (like those operated by @Maxar) can produce. See for yourself.
@nktpnd @mhanham @Maxar Experts like @nktpnd and @mhanham have never seen anything like it. They firmly believe it came from a classified source. Both the White House and the @ODNIgov declined to comment.
Read 8 tweets
19 Aug 19
. @ctbto_alerts confirms that 4 IMS stations are offline in Russia.

RUP61; Dubna: the last message received in the International Data Centre (IDC) was 2019/08/10 03:16:59 (IDC received time UTC)

RUP54; Kirov: the last message received in IDC was 2019/08/10 06:19:31 UTC
@ctbto_alerts The other two stations went offline on August 13th.
@ctbto_alerts All four outages came just days after an accident that may have involved the nuclear-powered SSC-X-9 Skyfall missile. Five ROSATOM employees were confirmed dead in that incident. It happened on August 8. The stations are CTBTO funded, but operated by local Russian institutions.
Read 6 tweets
24 Jan 19
GUYS! I'm going to watch the entire W76-1 LEP celebration from Pantex yesterday and tweet about it in this thread...

First thing I learned: "Pantexan" is a word.
First up, NNSA director Lisa Gordon-Hagerty: W76-1 LEP started in October 1998, with first production unit in Sep of '08. Last unit produced in Dec 2018. So ~20 years end-to-end...
LGH: W76-1 required "significant modifications" to the warhead. The 76-1 extends warhead life by 20+ years. It incorporates nuclear surety enhancements and minimizes certification risks in the absence of testing.
Read 25 tweets

Did Thread Reader help you today?

Support us! We are indie developers!

This site is made by just two indie developers on a laptop doing marketing, support and development! Read more about the story.

Become a Premium Member ($3/month or $30/year) and get exclusive features!

Become Premium

Too expensive? Make a small donation by buying us coffee ($5) or help with server cost ($10)

Donate via Paypal Become our Patreon

Thank you for your support!

Follow Us on Twitter!