13 thoughts on “Sunday Morning Marr Update

  1. This isn’t strictly to do with this article, but with the new vaccine about to be distributed and people having concerns, or not enough concerns (!), I thought it would be useful to post this comment here too:

    Further vaccine information:

    Prof Devi Sridhar retweeted this (so on my ‘approved’) list, re ‘what is known’ about the first vaccine


    A lot of it might not be particularly accessible for most people what with the medical detail, but you can get the gist by scrolling through the thread. It is experimental stll, so not enough is known for guaranteed long-term safety and certainty in efficacy, in all categories of people anyway, but it is going to work to some extent and it won’t kill you.

    I think it’s useful to watch Jeanne Freeman’s Covid Statement in parliament (you can find it on parliament tv, in recently archived) about how they are distributing and the plans and what the guidelines are. First off, she acknowledged the above issues – experimental nature and uncertain efficacy – and sets out who is in the Phase 1 inoculation group, those that will receive this Pfizer one; that’s medical and care staff, then 80+ aged people and some young vulnerable people.

    The timeline for phase 1 is projected to be complete end of March 2021. So if you are not in any of the phase 1 groups – there is no point in worrying about whether you should take it or not – you can’t.

    If you are in any of these groups and are concerned, phone your GP and discuss it with them in a couple of weeks (so they have time to read and digest the info).

    By next March, more vaccines will be on the market and approved, or whatever, for use – and we can all discuss the issue then.

    It’s got to be a personal choice – if it is still experimental, it must be voluntary. I’m personally fine with experimental, even if uncontrolled, in this situation because there is some urgency and the benefits outweigh the risks. But, I don’t need to make the decision in this case, the general population are not going to be offered it.

    Better vaccines will be along soon enough, and definitely by March next year. One of the bad points about this one is that it needs two injections – that just makes distribution really difficult.

    (all I mean by ‘uncontrolled’ is that there is no control group – normally you have a control group that are given placebo and experimenters don’t know which is which – to demonstrate whatever substance makes a difference. Research results don’t really prove anything without it, but not a real issue for actual use)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. As someone who (given my age) will most likely be in the 2nd or 3rd wave of innoculations that has been helpful as finding info that you can rely on is proving difficult. I wouldn’t say ‘most’ but a lot of people like myself have reservations about getting vaccinated for two reasons given the speed at which this vaccine has been developed and approved and secondly past history of medical procedures that have been approved and yet found to cause severe after affects such as mesh implants, contaminated blood, thalidomide etc etc which concerns me especially at a time when we have a very uncaring Tory Government in office whose main concern is getting the economy moving again. Although elderly fortunately I am still in relatively good health so have not made up my mind yet.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. There are placebo groups at all stages with this vaccine inn
      Deed with any vaccine. You will find plenty of references to placebo groups in articles on the vaccine in the BMJ, Bloomberg and NY Times (see below) for example as well as Pfizer itself

      The question facing those carrying out the trials is whether to vaccinate those who had the placebo or continue with them as a control group for comparison with those who received the vaccine in the trial

      Liked by 1 person

    3. Further to my earlier post about your claim that there was no placebo group. The tweet and resulting thread that you linked to makes several mentions of placebo groups as well as giving results in some of the placebo group compared to those getting the vaccine.


      1. Legerwood,

        Read my comment again – I didn’t suggest the trial itself didn’t have control groups – I was talking about its public use – it hasn’t been fully tested, and so results and data from public use will be collected and it’s there that no control group will be used.

        The trial had a good large sample number and tested that group correctly. But the category of person used for testing was fairly narrow – so not a representative population sample, and not in all situations – and, obviously, didn’t cover long-term effects.

        I explained what I meant by ‘uncontrolled’ to emphasise that it wasn’t relevant to actual use of the vaccine. But you’ve now gone ahead and introduced more confusion for people – who shouldn’t have to understand the nitty gritty of how scientific research is conducted. Read what I’ve actually said, before making points of caution, and try and keep countering points easy to understand in term of relevance – on this subject – please.


    4. All your concerns are absolutely valid Gerry R, as acknowledged by Jeane Freeman – unfortunately information will be coming out in dribs and drabs just the same as it did (is still doing) with the virus – and it’s really difficult to make a personal judgement without (accessible) information. Because the info is going to be patchy for quite a while, the best source for allaying concerns will be your GP – they will understand and be able to interpret the info for you.

      And yes, elderly doesn’t mean in poor health – even the 80 plus age group can have plenty hale and hearty people in it.

      If you’d be in phase 2 or after, I wouldn’t worry about this one at all, more information and better data will be out before March next year – and potentially (probably) better vaccines. By the end of next year the phase 1 people will need re-vaccinated too probably – the biggest difficulty with this kind of mass vaccination exercise is the logistics. On that basis, because I’m going to be in any very low priority grouping, I’d never take up a vaccine that someone else might need – I can carry on with other preventative measures – and it might be quite a while before I have to take all the aspects into consideration.

      This vaccine has been rushed through with far too much haste, true, but on a cost/benefit analysis (at a population, not individual, level) I think the authorities are right to release it for use. It doesn’t appear to have many, and no serious, short-term side effects, and the chances are it will be fine long-term (we just don’t know though as you say, and we can’t either – for that we need time, and we don’t have that). The main thing is, the health professionals need this now, so even though I don’t trust our governments or their motivations, there is a genuine health need that takes priority. They are the priority and can judge the risks themselves. Never feel obliged to take anything you don’t personally feel comfortable with though.

      The government aren’t going to get everyone inoculated in a year (and by then we’ll all need it again!), so the economy is going to slow at starting, whatever they say or desire, this isn’t a magic bullet, it just gives us a fighting chance.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. They will never show graphs r report on stats showing Scotland is doing better the rUK.
    It’s bad for Wales, they have south of England, and NW of Eng right next door, both high infection areas, perhaps Wales needs to close their border, are they allowed to?
    Scotland is too cold for most people any further south than Newcastle, so maybe winter is no bad thing right now. I mean, icey thunder and lightening, brrr, best stay at home for the festive season! It was quite scary hearing the icey T and L in the middle of the night, very loud indeed.


  3. Contrary at 8.22 am you wrote:

    “”(all I mean by ‘uncontrolled’ is that there is no control group – normally you have a control group that are given placebo and experimenters don’t know which is which – to demonstrate whatever substance makes a difference. Research results don’t really prove anything without it, but not a real issue for actual use)

    This was your definition of ‘uncontrolled’ from your post at 8.22 am.
    What I pointed out in my posts above in response to your statement is that the 3-stage testing of the vaccine did have control groups who had been given placebos. Without data from such controls the vaccine would not have passed the regulatory process and been approved for use. Research data on its own without concurrent controls in place is never sufficient and would be a real issue for actual use. Your statement throws doubt on the conduct of the trials and by extension on the regulatory process and decision of the regulatory body. I merely pointed out the error and in the process gave some reassurance that corners had not been cut. Nothing I wrote could in any way confused the issue.
    Now that the vaccine has been licensed for emergency use its performance will be closely monitored and there will be compulsory reporting by GPs etc of any side-effects or adverse reactions. These will be collated in a central database and monitored to check for any emerging problems.

    The debate now is on the ethics of continuing to monitor the two arms of the volunteers – vaccine recipients and placebo recipients – and thus denying the control group access to the vaccine. There is a useful article in the USA Today that covers these issues and the implications for the testing of vaccines that are still going through the various stages.



    1. The sentence in which I used the word ‘uncontrolled’ was this:

      “It’s got to be a personal choice – if it is still experimental, it must be voluntary. I’m personally fine with experimental, even if uncontrolled, in this situation because there is some urgency and the benefits outweigh the risks.”

      Present tense, not past tense, and not referring to the research. My definition was just to make sure no one thought uncontrolled meant anything else except in a research setting.

      I am addressing concerns – people’s actual and valid concerns – at the same time as saying I approve of the vaccine being used. People think they have to try and make a choice right now – they don’t! There is no point in promoting that particular one, or condemning it – it’s not the only one that’ll be available, and we will get more information in the future.

      I very much doubt that the majority of concerns involve the age-old ethical debate, being played out yet again, on live medical research subjects. Yes, it’s good to consider such things, but not immediately relevant to people’s lives, and was not the subject of my comment. I am fine debating any aspect of anything I have said, but to be frank I have lost all patience with trolling – and if you detract from the meaning of my comment by introducing misunderstood side issues, and introducing irrelevant ones, you are trolling. On this subject, no, I will not accept it. Here, as a separate post, I’m fine with that, but not when it’s a reply as you did earlier. I know you are intelligent and perfectly capable of discussing things civilly. You could have just said I hadn’t made it clear, or anything, like it would be too easily misunderstood, instead of immediately accusing me of saying something I hadn’t and introducing doubt. Something most people wouldn’t have bothered reading, and was not misinformation as you implied. The vaccine has not been FULLY tested under clinical research conditions – that’s a fact, and people need to know if that’s a problem or not.

      In your paragraph starting ‘now that the vaccine has been licenced…’ – yes, that’s the uncontrolled experimental part. Whether or not people need to know that – I understand what it means, and I know it isn’t relevant except for future data and research results – I don’t know, but it could have confused people – as it obviously has you – and I would edit if I could. But if people don’t know what it meant in my context, then they didn’t know the implications in reasearch either. It was only your reply that highlighted it, and introduced doubt, without asking about it in a civil manner.

      At no point am I dissing the vaccine – I say it’s a good thing for what it’s going to be used for – and not something to worry about at this time; mainly because it isn’t available to most people. Medical professionals will be extremely happy to have it, and that’s the main thing.


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