The pharmaceutical giant Merck has abandoned its two COVID-19 vaccine trials, after studies showed very little effectiveness of their vaccine (Merck, 2021). The manufacturer, in their news release, said that the vaccines produced LESS immune responses than compared to a NATURAL infection, and less than other COVID-19 vaccines, leading to their decision to scrap their trials and vaccine production.
The Oxford University/Astra Zeneca vaccine is undergoing human trials in the UK. While most of the other COVID vaccine manufacturers saved a lot of time in vaccine development by skipping the typically-required animal testing, the Oxford vaccine has been doing animal trials anyway.
The Oxford vaccine animal trials found that ALL of the monkeys became infected with COVID-19 when challenged after the vaccination. There was no difference in the viral load or symptoms between the vaccinated group and the un-vaccinated group. The antibody levels produced from the vaccine was very low, hence the vaccine did not prevent animals catching the virus. The vaccine did NOT work (van Doremalen et al., 2020). More of a concern was that the study, by the Oxford scientists themselves, was that "viral shedding" of the coronavirus was NOT reduced in the vaccinated animals. This is proof that the Oxford vaccine actually "sheds" in mucus which can then infect other people to spread the genetically-modified virus - from the vaccine.
The scientists performing the animal trial suggested that if similar results were found in human trials, "the vaccine would be unlikely to reduce transmission in the wider community".
Animal trials often show problems with vaccines (or medications) well before they get to human trials. Many vaccines and medications never make it to human trial stage, because of poor efficacy or from causing too many problems (ie, side effects) in animals.
The lack of animal trials is a massive safety issue when very new vaccines or medications are being developed. Animal trials are also contentious and perceived as unethical or cruel, but then again so is trialling such new vaccines or medications in humans.
The Oxford/AZ vaccine was meant to be one of the major vaccines being offered, so much so that the Australian government bought a huge number of doses... well before trials had finished (ABC, 2020a).
Switzerland, however, has now banned (or "not authorised") the Oxford/AZ COVID vaccine because of a lack of evidence of effectiveness (Express, 2021). This was confirmed with the German vaccine committee research team finding that it is only 8% effective in those over 65 years of age, and therefore the Oxford/AZ vaccine will not be recommended to adults over 65 years in Germany (Tio, 2021; ABC, 2021b).
Pfizer has been having issues with their vaccine too... Pfizer applied for "emergency use authorisation" for its mRNA vaccine to be given in India, after the country's medicines regulator requested further information and a local trial to confirm the vaccine's safety and efficacy. Pfizer declined to undertake these further investigations into their vaccine and withdrew their application (CNBC, 2021).
The Centres of Disease Control (CDC) in the US on their own website report a published study that Israel had a surge in coronavirus incidences at the same time as the Pfizer vaccine was approved and being given to people. Many people working in healthcare in Israel developed COVID-19 from 1-10 days after vaccination. At the start of the Pfizer vaccine rollout, Israel have a COVID-19 positive test rate of 4.4% of the population (Times of Israel, 2020), but this nearly doubled to 7% of the population just over 1 month later as more people got the Pfizer vaccine (CDC, 2021; World of Meters, 2021). Clearly the Pfizer vaccine is NOT working! The Israeli study found that the Pfizer vaccine efficacy is only 52%, not their reported 95%! Hence they say that even immunised persons can still develop COVID-19.
Ironically, China are also developing their own vaccine. The Chinese COVID vaccine from CanSino Biologics showed 81% adverse events in their clinical trials, with 17% of them being classified as "serious" adverse reactions. This is a different type of vaccine, similar to the AZ/Oxford type and using a genetically-modified adenovirus type 5 virus (Corvelva, 2021). The very high amount of adverse events is very concerning.
That concludes the roundup of the world's COVID vaccine news. With not a lot being positive news (unless you count the various countries stopping some of the vaccines being used on their populations). There's no evidence yet of any slowing of COVID incidences or deaths from any country, despite many millions of vaccines being given. Will wait and see for more studies or statistics to come out... In the meantime, support your immune system!
Amit, S., Beni, S.A., Biber, A., Grinberg, A., Leshem, E., & Regev-Yochay, G. (2021). Post-Vaccination COVID-19 among Healthcare Workers, Israel.
Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC). (2020a). Australia orders 84 million doses of coronavirus vaccine for massive free roll-out next year. Retrieved 7th February 2021 from https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-09-06/free-coronavirus-vaccine-to-be-made-available-throughout-20212/12635174
Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC). (2020b). Germany questions efficacy of AstraZeneca vaccine in the elderly. Retrieved 7th February 2021 from https://www.abc.net.au/news/2021-01-29/germany-questions-efficacy-of-astrazeneca-vaccine-in-the-elderly/13101658
CNBC. (2021). Pfizer withdraws application for emergency use of its Covid-19 vaccine in India. Retrieved 7th February from https://www.cnbc.com/2021/02/05/pfizer-withdraws-application-for-emergency-use-of-its-covid-19-vaccine-in-india.html
Corvelva. (2021). Covid-19 vaccine: 81% of the clinical trial volunteers had reactions to the vaccine. Retrieved 7th February 2020 from https://www.corvelva.it/en/approfondimenti/notizie/covid19/vaccino-covid-19-l-81-dei-volontari-della-sperimentazione-clinica-ha-avuto-reazioni-al-vaccino.html
Express. (2021). Switzerland bans AstraZeneca vaccine for ALL citizens as Europe declares war on UK jab. Retrieved 5th February 2021 from https://www.express.co.uk/news/politics/1392962/eu-vaccine-latest-astrazeneca-switzerland-ban-oxford-vaccine-uk-latest
Merck. (2021). Merck Discontinues Development of SARS-CoV-2/COVID-19 Vaccine Candidates; Continues Development of Two Investigational Therapeutic Candidates. Retrieved 3rd February 2021 from https://www.merck.com/news/merck-discontinues-development-of-sars-cov-2-covid-19-vaccine-candidates-continues-development-of-two-investigational-therapeutic-candidates/
Times of Israel. (2020). Daily virus cases surpassed 3,000 on Sunday, with 4.4% of tests positive. Retrieved 7th February 2020 from https://www.timesofisrael.com/liveblog-december-21-2020/
Tio. (2021). Dubbi sul vaccino di AstraZeneca: «Efficacia solo dell'8% sugli over 65». Retrieved 7th February from https://www.tio.ch/dal-mondo/attualita/1488779/vaccino-astrazeneca-dubbi-over-efficacia
van Doremalen, M., Lambe, T., Spencer, A., Belij-Rammerstorfer, S., Purushotham, J.N. Port, J.R., Avanzato, V., Bushmaker, T., Flaxman, A., Ulaszewska, M., Feldmann, F., Allen, E.R., Sharpe, H., Schulz, J., Holbrook, M., Okumura, A., Meade-White, K., Pérez-Pérez, L., Bissett, C., Gilbride, C., Williamson, B.N., Rosenke, R., Long, D., Ishwarbhai, A., Kailath, R., Rose, L., Morris, S., Powers, C., Lovaglio, J., Hanley, P.W., Scott, D., Saturday, G., de Wit, E., Gilbert, S.C., Munster, V.J. (2020). ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 vaccination prevents SARS-CoV-2 pneumonia in rhesus macaques, bioRxiv. doi: 10.1101/2020.05.13.093195
World of Meters. (2020) Coronavirus cases. Retrieved 6th February 2021 from https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/