Lancet editor tells Israeli audience new Covid vaccine is no ‘magic bullet’
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Lancet editor tells Israeli audience new Covid vaccine is no ‘magic bullet’

Richard Horton told the University of Haifa Board of Governors that the announcement from US firm Pfizer and German company BioNTech would not be the final word.

A volunteer participates in a clinical trial for its COVID-19 vaccine candidate (Photo: PA/Business Wire)
A volunteer participates in a clinical trial for its COVID-19 vaccine candidate (Photo: PA/Business Wire)

The editor of respected medical journal The Lancet has told an Israeli audience in Haifa that the new Covid-19 vaccine that is reportedly 90 percent effective will be no “magic bullet”.

In comments that will echo across the medical field, Richard Horton told the University of Haifa Board of Governors that the announcement from US firm Pfizer and German company BioNTech would not be the final word.

Calling it “an interim analysis”, he said: “It is not the final bottom line on the study. True, it seems there may be a 90 percent effectiveness rate, but we have not seen the full data yet.”

Horton, who was speaking after receiving an honorary doctorate from the university, also praised the Chinese medical and scientific community for being “an inspiring part of the story” in the global effort to find a cure for the virus.

Despite being “cautiously optimistic”, he said the vaccine “is not going to be a simple magic bullet to eradicate this coronavirus”, adding that the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is one of eleven in the final stages of clinical studies around the world, with another 40-50 in early clinical trial developments and 100+ in pre-clinical development.

He said that developing a vaccine in ten months, when most take seven years, was a huge success, as was a 90 percent effectiveness rate, given that most new vaccines typically have a much lower rate of success.

Unregulated vaccines are already being given out to Russian, Chinese and Gulf state soldiers, which concerned him.

“My worry is if something goes wrong with those vaccines, if there’s an adverse effect we didn’t detect in the early stage clinical trials and we then discover it, that will puncture any confidence people will have in the Covid-19 vaccine. We really have to be careful. This is not a moment to cut corners.”

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