Pfizer Covid vaccine: Trust in science, not conspiracy theorists and disinformation from hostile states – Scotsman comment

Whether the day that brought news of a Covid-19 vaccine able to prevent 90 per cent of people from Covid-19 was truly “a great day for science and humanity” – as described by the chair of Pfizer, Dr Albert Bourla – remains to be seen.

A patient is given a dose of a coronavirus vaccine produced by BioNTech (Picture: BioNTech SE 2020/PA Wire)
A patient is given a dose of a coronavirus vaccine produced by BioNTech (Picture: BioNTech SE 2020/PA Wire)

But some leading scientists could scarcely contain their joy at the news of a preliminary analysis of a Pfizer and BioNTech vaccine trial involving 43,500 people in six countries.

Asked if it could mean a return to normal by spring, Oxford University regius professor of medicine John Bell agreed, telling the BBC: "I am probably the first guy to say that, but I will say that with some confidence.”

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Reading University virologist Professor Ian Jones said the trial showed “really impressive protection”; Professor Robin Shattock, leading Imperial College London’s work on a vaccine, said it was “not yet the end game, but hopefully the beginning of global efforts to control this pandemic. A significant light at the end of the tunnel”; and Professor Fiona Watt, executive chair of the Medical Research Council, described the announcement as “very encouraging news”, praising the volunteers who took part as “without their altruism the trial could not have gone ahead”.

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All these people know what they are talking about, so there are real grounds for hope.

However, there are no grounds for complacency and, as Boris Johnson pointed out the Pfizer vaccine is not yet a “slam dunk” that solves all our problems in words that echoed sentiments expressed by scientists.

And it certainly does not solve the immediate problems of the current outbreak. The means of combatting that deadly threat are largely the same ones that were deployed at the start of the pandemic – such as social distancing, handwashing, wearing masks and self-isolating when necessary.

Regrettably, there are fools, who arrogantly assume they know better than scientists, intent on spreading misinformation and also sinister forces, such as those in Vladimir Putin’s Russia, working to spread disinformation about vaccines and Covid. Thankfully, one of the former will soon leave the White House.

Scientists and serious politicians who listened carefully to what they had to say helped build the modern world – something to remember if you find yourself tempted to fall for conspiracy theorists or agents of a hostile foreign state.

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