But never mind the skipped and fast-tracked clinical trials that would normally have taken 7-10 years to produce a vaccine (but questionable on the "safe and effective" descriptions).
How did the manufacturers come up with their approx 95% effectiveness rate? Briefly, they excluded unhealthy people - the very people that are being targeted for the vaccine - and also excluded pregnant women and children too. They gave half a group of healthy people the vaccine and half got a placebo. In the very short study period, the vaccinated group got a small number of infections, but the placebo group got a lot of infections. The ratio of placebo group infections to vaccinated group infections was about 95% : 5%. While this might seem statistically to be quite definitive and successful, the studies deliberately did not actually determine the "effectiveness" of the vaccine (Tenny & Hoffman, 2021):
- in producing antibodies - that wasn't checked for when it should have been
- in preventing a COVID infection - not tested for
- in reducing severity of symptoms - not checked
- in reducing visits to hospitals - not checked
- in preventing complications from the infection - not checked
- in or even reducing the death rate (or causing no deaths) - not checked.
How on earth then can the vaccines be 95% successful?! Simple, they aren't.
There is a concept in the statistics of clinical trials called Relative Risk - being the ratio of the risks for an event in the exposure group compared to those in the control or placebo group (Tenny & Hoffman, 2021). This is the sneaky technique that the vaccine manufacturers used in their trials to come up with 95% : 5% and therefore 95% "effective". But it's not...
However, the Relative Risk does not provide information about the true Absolute Risk of the event occurring. The Absolute Risk is the ACTUAL risk of the event happening, or success or effectiveness rate, and considers the whole population.
The attached pictures show a visual example of the difference between the Relative Risk vs the Absolute Risk for the Pfizer vaccine trial results.
A study published in the prestigious The Lancet medical journal (Olliaro, Torreele & Vaillant, 2021) investigated the statistics used by the major vaccine manufacturers in their trials, and instead of their sneaky Relative Risk or effectiveness %, they calculated their ACTUAL Absolute Risk percentage of each the vaccines. The true effectiveness of them are:
AstraZeneca - 1.3% (previously reported as 95% effective!)
Pfizer - 0.84% (previously reported as 95% effective!)
Moderna - 1.2% (previously reported as 94% effective!)
J&J - 1.2% (previously reported as 67% effective!)
Gamalaya (Russian Sputnik vaccine) - 0.93% (previously reported as 90% effective!)
Another technique used in the statistical analysis of vaccine clinical trials is the concept of the Number Needed to Vaccinate (NNV), being the number of people needed to be vaccinated to prevent ONE incidence of COVID-19 in this case. The NNV for these vaccines are:
AstraZeneca - 78
Pfizer - 117
Moderna - 76
J&J - 84
Gamalaya - 80.
That's a LOT of people who need to be vaccinated to prevent just one case of COVID-19.
It is important in your decision to decide getting the vaccine as to whether the effectiveness of a particular vaccine is worth the risk of the side effects. If you are not being told the true or correct effectiveness or even the actual risks, then it makes it an unrealistic and incomplete decision. In any case, YOU are an individual with your own personal risks, based on your health history, age, existing conditions, and other factors. It is impossible to work out your personal risk ratio. But you need the best information to help you decide (which is called "informed consent") - but you are not being given this information by the authorities or from your doctor.
What you have been told are lies and statistics, being one and the same thing. Statistics and science, sadly, can be manipulated by clever people to trick and confuse other people, such as in this situation. The authors of the Lancet study mentioned above, showed that the efficacy and effectiveness of vaccines is not as straightforward as it seems.
Be informed. Stay healthy!
Olliaro, P., Torreele, E., & Vaillant, M. (2021). COVID-19 vaccine efficacy and effectiveness—the elephant (not) in the room. The Lancet, 2021. DOI: 10.1016/S2666-5247(21)00069-0
Tenny, S. & Hoffman, M.R. (2021). Relative Risk. Retrieved 31st May 2021 from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK430824/