As much fun as it is to lift up rocks and examine creepy crawlies, even then, sometimes less is more. So we’ll stick to the high points of the latest Pfizer vaccine anomaly, this one on the stop and go Omicron booster, and let readers, particularly readers with intel or at least knowledge of clinical trials and “normal” FDA approval processes, opine further.
Recall that one of the widely-touted reasons for being excited about the brave new world of mRNA vaccines was that new versions designed to target mutations could ostensively be developed in a week or two. Mind you, it was understood that it would still take time for them to be properly tested for efficacy and then subject to regulatory review/approval.
Recall further that despite the supposed miraculous tunabilty of mRNA vaccines, no one launched a Delta booster. We discussed this lapse in a December post:
One reason was that Delta overlapped with the older variants a bit before becoming dominant. Second is that the performance of the original vaccines didn’t fall as much in reducing risk of hospitalizations and death as it appears to when boosted for Omicron. Sadly the vaccines did do more to reduce contagion of the wild type virus than Delta, but that change doesn’t get much mention.
But as far as I can tell, the idea of developing a new vaccine targeting Delta wasn’t even seriously entertained. Our GM described an additional issue which I never saw mentioned in the press: the Delta variations were orthogonal to some other variants. So while the original vaccine was pretty effective against wild type and Delta and the “orthogonal” variants, one aimed at Delta would not do much to combat the orthogonal variants. So it made sense to stick with the original vaccine as a reasonable “good enough for all current seasons” compromise.
Recall additionally that when the obviously fast-moving and super-different Omicron burst onto the scene, experts who weren’t cognitively or financially captured were warning it would significantly or entirely evade the current vaccines. That concern was quickly confirmed by who fell to early outbreaks in Norway and Denmark. And then at the end of November, the great unwashed public was subjected to narrative conflict. As we wrote then:
After repeatedly claiming that a Biden Administration would “follow the science” on Covid, it now appears to be hoist on its petard of instead relying on least effort approaches combined with better propaganda, aka placing all its bets on vaccines.
These headlines illustrate the problem. The first is the lead in the Wall Street Journal; the second is from the Financial Times:
Recall finally that early in the Omicron march across the globe, Pfizer said it would have an Omicron booster read to roll by early March. But the Biden administration bizarrely went to war with that idea. Hoisting again from our late December post, Maybe No Omicron Boosters?: