Data Emerging about Effect of Israel’s Vaccination Effort

Israel currently leads the world in per-capita COVID-19 vaccination by a wide margin. As of this writing, Israel has administered 46.7 doses per 100 people, compared to second-place United Arab Emirates at 27.1 doses per 100 population. The United States, in comparison, has only administered 7.1 doses per 100 people.

Initial reports from Israel suggest the vaccine is preventing both new infections and new hospitalizations.

A preliminary study by Israeli HMO Maccabi showed that only 20 people out of 128,600 who received both shots of the Pfizer vaccine had become infected with COIVD-19. None of those cases were severe enough to require hospitalization.

According to Maccabi’s experts this is preliminary data but the numbers are very encouraging,” Maccabi said in a statement.

“Maccabi reports that out of the 20 people infected, 50% suffer from chronic illnesses. All patients experienced a mild illness with symptoms including headaches, cough, weakness or fatigue. No-one was hospitalized or suffered from a fever above 38.5C. Most patients tested for COVID-19 due to exposure to a verified patient,” it said.

Is the FDA Dragging Its Feet on Vaccine Approval for PR Reasons?

One of the stranger episodes in a rush to get a COVID-19 vaccine is the FDA’s apparent lack of urgency to meet regarding the Emergency Use Authorization for a vaccine.

On November 20, Pfizer submitted safety and efficacy data related to its COVID-19 vaccine. Rather than schedule a prompt meeting to review the data, the FDA at that time announced it would convene on December 10 to review the data.

Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine professor Marty Markary argued in The Dispatch that the delay is unnecessary,

As a Johns Hopkins scientist who has conducted more than 100 clinical studies and reviewed thousands more from the scientific community at large, I can assure you that the agency’s review can be done within 24 to 48 hours without cutting any corners. They just need to work harder.

Contrary to popular belief, the FDA process is not hands-on—it does not interview vaccine trial patients or look under a microscope at the immune cells. It’s doing a statistical analysis and looking at data. For the vaccine trial, the data set is small and straightforward. If my research team, normally tasked with analyzing data on millions of patients, was asked to review the smaller Pfizer vaccine study of 43,000 patients, it would take about one hour.

There may be very good scientific reasons to delay the review for three weeks, but Anthony Fauci has come close to saying that the delay is essential to reassure vaccine skeptics. According to a CNN story on Fauci’s comments to Fox News,

“The way the FDA is, our FDA is doing it, is the correct way,” Fauci said in an interview on Fox News.

“We really scrutinize the data very carefully to guarantee to the American public that this is a safe and efficacious vaccine,” he said.

“I think if we did any less, we would add to the already existing hesitancy on the part of many people to take the vaccine because they’re concerned about safety or they’re concerned that we went too quickly.”

. . .

“So, it’s almost a damned if you do and you’re damned if you don’t, because if you go quickly and you do it superficially, people are not going to want to get vaccinated.”

Fauci initially criticized the UK for approving the Pfizer vaccine so quickly, but then walked back those claims, telling NBC News that “The Brits are good, they know what they’re doing, they’re really pros.”

Writing for Marginal Revolution, Alex Tabarrok argues that if the delay is intended to signal that the vaccine is safe, that this is likely an approach that will fail.

If the intent is to simply reassure hestitant Americans that the vaccine is safe by unnecessarily prolonging the review period, Alex Tabarrok at Marginal Revolution notes that this is an unconsionable practice that is unlikely to succeed.

Second, there is no guarantee that the risk averse, fearful and scientifically illiterate will be convinced by extra FDA investigation and there is plenty of evidence that they won’t be. Dozens of well-done studies have found no link between vaccines and autism. The scientific evidence that vaccines don’t cause autism is very strong. Yet many people don’t care. Moreover, I bet there is a significant overlap between those who think or fear that vaccines cause autism and those who fear a COVID vaccine. Will a few weeks of extra FDA investigation win these people over? No. More science won’t end science denialism.

Third, rather than alleviating fear, FDA delay may increase fear. People may reason, if the FDA is taking this long to review the evidence when thousands of people are dying every day it must be a hard decision. Delay also makes the vaccine less useful and less obviously useful. Thus, if vaccines come too late people will say that we were reaching herd immunity anyway and that vaccines are useless.

Trump Lies About COVID-19 Vaccine Development

In the clip below, Donald Trump lies by taking credit for the COVID-19 vaccines developed by Pfizer, Moderna, and AstraZeneca.

And what did I do? I came up with vaccines that people didn’t think we’d have for five years.

It is worth remembering that, unlike Trump, companies like Moderna got to work right away to try to do something about the COVID-19 outbreak. By February 24, 2020, Moderna had actually begun shipping out samples of its experimental vaccine to US government researchers.

Meanwhile, in late February 2020, Donald Trump was still trying to bullshit his way out of the pandemic, dismissing the threat of the disease by saying things like this on February 26, 2020,

. . .when you have 15 people, and the 15 within a couple of days is going to be down to close to zero, that’s a pretty good job we’ve done.

Trump doubled down on this statement on the following day on February 27, 2020,

It’s going to disappear. One day — it’s like a miracle — it will disappear. And from our shores, we — you know, it could get worse before it gets better. It could maybe go away. We’ll see what happens. Nobody really knows.

The main thing Trump did through his longstanding denial and sabotaging o public health efforts is guarantee that Americans who might have lived long enough to receive a vaccine instead died prematurely from the disease.

Judy Reed Wants Letters Over Cruel Pfizer Ad

Animal rights activist Judy Reed, who runs an Internet group that churns out letters for activists to send to various companies, posted an amusing letter on March 22 upset at a Pfizer television ad. The ad is for Pfizer’s Zyrtec allergy medicine and as to why Reed was upset by the ad, well, here’s what she wrote,

Action #1:

Have you seen Pfizer’s Zyrtec drug ad where the woman states, “Either I have to get rid of my allergy medication or get rid of Rufus.” She is referring to her presumably adored companion dog. Please tell Pfizer why you object to this ad and that animals are not “things” to get rid of. And, at the very least, anyone who must give up a companion animal should be responsible about finding a good home for the pet.

. . .

A human with a very serious allergy with which he/she cannot function, or which is life threatening, should not adopt a pet.

Reed is apparently aware of the phenomenon of adult onset allergies which can be quite a shock to people used to having no problems around animals. But then Reed doesn’t sound like much of a brain trust.

But, for the record, I encourage all animal rights activist to write of their outrage at this ad as well. That will give someone at Pfizer a good laugh when they realize what the animal rights activists are upset about this time around.


Pls contact Pfizer re: Anti-Animal Ad and Web Site. Judy Reed, E-Mail, March 22, 2003.

PCRM and Noah Wyle Just Keep the Hypocrisy Rolling

Back in October 2000, the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine not only criticized a milk ad that featured actor Noah Wyle, they filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission complaining that the ad was deceptive (see PCRM vs. Noah Wyle: Will the Real Physician Please Stand Up?).

So guess who PCRM is now using as a spokesman in an ad campaign — that’s right, Noah Wyle.

And, just by coincidence, PCRM removed from its web site its October 24, 2000 press release, “Physicians lodge complaint over misleading ad starring “ER” actor Noah Wyle.” What’s a little rewriting history between friends?

Wyle, by the way, is endorsing PCRM’s “cruelty-free charities” program and speaking out against animal research. At the same time, of course, he is also actively involved with a charity and a pharmaceutical company, neither of which meets PCRM’s definition of cruelty-free.

Wyle has been a prominent spokesman for the YWCA’s and Pfizer’s outreach efforts to combat post-traumatic stress disorder. A press release announcing the program last year announced, “Actor Noah Wyle Joins Pfizer and the YWCA of the U.S.A. to Launch PTSD Community Outreach Program.”

Why Pfizer? Because one of the common treatments for PTSD sufferers are drugs called serotonin reuptake inhibitors — drugs which were, of course, developed extensively with the sort of animal research that Wyle now says he opposes.

Apparently Wyle thinks that the pain suffered by a rape victim is severe, but not compared to what a mouse or rat in a laboratory has to go through (one has to wonder if Wyle also thinks that animal research used to develop emergency contraception drugs such as RU-486 was also immoral and improper).


PCRM releases new PSA on cruelty-free charities. Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, August 1, 2002.

Noah Wyle: There’s help for PTSD sufferers. W. Reed Moran, USA Today, August 3, 2002.

Actor Noah Wyle Joins Pfizer and the YWCA of the U.S.A. to Launch PTSD Community Outreach Program. YWCA/Pfizer Press Release, January 8, 2001.