We FINALLY have one of the first comprehensive
randomized controlled trials in existence for gauging the effectiveness of
surgical masks against COVID-19. Not the inky dinky cloth masks you made by yourself
at home, but the types of masks used in medical settings.
(FYI: For the non-scientists reading this, a “randomized controlled trial” is one of the highest standards of evidence in medical research.)
This study was conducted over 3 months by Danish scientists who examined nearly 6,000 people. Each subject was given 50 high-quality masks for free and were instructed on how to properly use them.
Here are the main takeaways:
“Infection with SARS-CoV-2 occurred in 42 participants recommended masks (1.8%) and 53 control participants (2.1%).”
“The recommendation to wear surgical masks to supplement other public health measures did not reduce the SARS-CoV-2 infection rate among wearers by more than 50% in a community with modest infection rates, some degree of social distancing, and uncommon general mask use.”
(If you want to read the study on your own time, it’s available for free on the Internet. Look up: “Effectiveness of Adding a Mask Recommendation to Other Public Health Measures to Prevent SARS-CoV-2 Infection in Danish Mask Wearers”.)
Let’s make sure we understand the results of this study clearly. It wasn’t perfectly done and there are some valid criticisms – frequency of mask use and proper mask fitting was not independently confirmed, and test results were self-reported.
But this is the smoking gun that debunks the “masks are universally effective and the science is settled” narrative. Based on the numbers, there is no significant difference in rates of infection between those who wear masks and those who don’t.
This study is showing us that masks DO NOT protect you from other people if you wear a mask. The evidence we have to date points towards masks protecting wearers from transmitting COVID-19 to others, but not the other way around.
Even the doctors heavily criticizing this study admit that a mask does not make you invulnerable from getting infected, and advocate for other measures alongside masks (social distancing, nation-wide testing, hand hygiene, etc.).
Yet this is a huge step forward in understanding just how easily transmissible the virus is. The Danish scientists had THREE top medical journals refuse to publish their results (Lancet, Journal of the American Medical Association, New England Journal of Medicine) before the Annals of Internal Medicine.
The scientists authoring this paper also noted beforehand that the results would be controversial. Looking at how leftists and left-wing health lobbyists are shrieking in a fury, I’d say they were right.
What do YOU think about the results of this new study on face masks? Does it change your opinion on how effective they are, or whether or not you’ll keep wearing them? Reply to this newsletter and share your comments with us!
The “90% Effective” COVID-19 Vaccine from Pfizer Is Now 95% Effective!?
In just 10 days after Pfizer claimed their COVID-19 vaccine was 90% effective after looking at their early data, it seems as if they have enough patients in their last Phase III clinical trial infected with the coronavirus to make a final conclusion about the effectiveness of their vaccine.
And here is what they are now claiming:
- 94% effective in individuals older than 65 years old, protecting older individuals most likely to die from a COVID-19 infection
- 95% effective overall, starting 28 days after the first dose (the vaccine treatment calls for a total of two doses)
- The results are consistent across various factors such as ethnicity, race, and age
- No serious side effects
reported to date
Pfizer is currently paperwork to the FDA for emergency use authorization by the end of this week. Should they receive the approval needed, they can produce 50 million doses by the end of 2020 and 1.3 billion doses by the end of 2021.
But they still have one barrier left to overcome: Storing the vaccine at ultra-low temperatures (-70 degrees Celsius) in special fridges which are both expensive and uncommonly produced. Pfizer is currently testing out delivery of their vaccine in the states of Tennessee, New Mexico, Texas, and Rhode Island to see if widespread distribution and storage is practically feasible.
What Can You Expect to Pay for a COVID-19 Vaccine?
It’s clear by now that either Moderna or Pfizer – or both companies simultaneously – will have a COVID-19 vaccine available for public use in the year 2021.
So what exactly will it cost for you to get treated, if you feel inclined to get vaccinated? Let’s take a look at the initial prices set by both pharmaceutical companies…
- Pfizer: $19.50 per dose, for a total of $39 per patient
- Moderna: $25 per dose, for a total of $50 per patient
When you compare this to the out-of-pocket price of $40 for the annual flu vaccine, these dollar amounts don’t seem unreasonable. And with the federal government heavily invested in these vaccines stopping the spread of COVID-19, the prices could go even lower.
Even better, the most vulnerable populations with health insurance from the government (i.e. low-income workers, the elderly) might even be able to get the vaccine for FREE!
But as other pharmaceutical companies eventually catch up and get their own COVID-19 vaccines approved, competition will cause Moderna and Pfizer to absorb the costs of pricing their vaccines so low. Even if they COULD justify charging hundreds of dollars per dose, now is not the time for them to fill their pockets with as much cash as possible.
Believe me, when the entire pandemic is over, they’ll have the rest of their lives to act like greedy self-interested thieves.
A Fist Fight between Moderna and Pfizer – Who Wins?
What would happen if we pit the COVID-19 vaccines from Moderna and Pfizer against each other? Which one will end up being most effective, and which company would be the better “BUY” recommendation for biotech investors?
Let’s compare them side-by-side to see where they stand…
- Effectiveness: There’s literally no practical difference between a 94.5% effectiveness rate from Moderna and 95% from Pfizer, especially considering their studies were designed similarly and use a similar population size
- Safety: Moderna has reported some minor side effects after their second dose, while Pfizer has not observed any serious side effects. The latter might have a very slight edge
- Likelihood of infection: Neither company has reported a significant number of incidences where the patients developed COVID-19 after taking the vaccine
- Practical dispensing: Pfizer’s vaccine needs to be at -70 degrees Celsius for transportation and storage, and can only last in a refrigerator for a single day. Moderna’s vaccine can be stored in a normal freezer for six months, and lasts in a refrigerator for 30 days.
So as you can see, there is a very marginal difference at the time of this writing. The small differences are not worth comparing at this point, as we’ll have to wait and observe how both companies handle all the post-approval data.
It’s entirely possible that one COVID-19 vaccine candidate proves to be wildly unsafe 3-6 months after administration. And in that case, we’ll have an entirely new can of worms to deal with.
The First FDA-Approved Kit for Self-Testing COVID-19 at Home Is Here!
After several months of aggressive research and development, the Lucira COVID-19 All-In-One Test Kit has been granted “emergency use approval” by the FDA to be used by the public on a prescription-basis only.
Individuals ages 14 and up can self-collect their own nasal swab sample, put it in the machine, and have a valid test result (i.e. positive or negative) within the next 30 minutes. Regardless of your test results, Lucira highly encourages you to report your results to your local healthcare provider for further examination and follow-up.
The FDA’s director of Center for Devices and Radiological Health, Dr. Jeff Shuren, had this to say about this exciting new breakthrough.
“Today’s authorization for a complete at-home test is a significant step toward FDA’s nationwide response to COVID-19. A test that can be fully administered entirely outside of a lab or healthcare setting has always been a major priority for the FDA to address the pandemic.
Now, more Americans who may have COVID-19 will be able to take immediate action, based on their results, to protect themselves and those around them.”
I just hope people actually follow the instructions included with the test, because it would be a real shame to see COVID-19 cases go UP due to mishandling at-home tests like the one manufactured by Lucira.
Refusal to Get COVID-19 Vaccine Might Get You Banned from Public Places
While all of the news around increasingly more effective COVID-19 vaccines and breakthroughs in diagnosing COVID-19 might get you excited, there is indeed a dark side to worry about.
In the United Kingdom, Conservative and senior-ranked Member of Parliament Tom Tugendhat implied that failing to get vaccinated for COVID-19 could have long-lasting consequences.
This is what he has proclaimed during an interview on HuffPost UK’s Commons People podcast…
He could “certainly see the day” where people would be banned from entering the office, pubs, or restaurants unless they provide a vaccination certificate
On getting vaccinated before traveling internationally, he said “‘I remember when I used to travel rather more than I do now – when you go into certain countries you had to show a yellow fever certificate and if you did not have a yellow fever certificate you weren’t allowed in the country and that was that. There was no debates, no appeals and no further requests. And I can see a situation where yes, of course you’re free not to have the vaccine, but there are consequences.”
And his opinion appears to be consistent on the subject of preventing unvaccinated individuals from using public transport:
“It would depend what the public services were, and who and when, so I wouldn’t want to start predicting. But I do think that if things are shown to be safe then rejecting them when they have a wider effect on the whole of society is going to have consequences.”
Granted, this is the United Kingdom. The ideas of “freedom of speech” and “individual liberty” are not held to a very high regard, at least not compared to the United States.
But if this type of dangerous thinking ever comes into the minds of politicians in the USA, there are going to be some very dark times ahead.
What do YOU think about the subject of mandatory COVID-19 vaccinations? Will the United States ever reach a point where failing to get vaccinated would rob you of the right to conduct essential and non-essential daily activities? Reply to this newsletter and share your thoughts with us!