One thought on “The Problem with Current Vaccine Trials: What Journalists Need to be Asking Drug Companies

  1. As Dr. Doshi said, it is important to evaluate the results of a trial in light of what the trial was designed to investigate, ie, the outcomes measures. These measures are listed in the trial protocol, an abbreviated version of which is available at for the vast majority of trials in all medical fields. Also listed are the inclusion and exclusion criteria for trial participation, which are important for evaluating the applicability and generalizability of the trial results to populations either represented or not reperesented in a trial. In addition, Dr. Doshi’s example (see image) points up the necessity of looking at absolute numbers rather than relative numbers of outcomes. If a vaccine is 60% effective in preventing cases, but if susceptible people (elderly, co-morbidities, etc) are more likely to be in the remaining 40% who get infected, they may be more at risk for severe disease. So it is possible that the vaccine may have no effect on hospitalizations or deaths, as in the illustration, even though it worked great in preventing disease for the generally healthier people in the population.

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