A covid-19 chart that’s been shared thousands of times is dramatizing just how well vaccines against the disease can work and how we might get out of pandemic hell.
Today, advisers to the US Food and Drug Administration voted in favor of emergency authorization for Pfizer’s covid-19 shot, and the data in this chart is a big reason why.
The graphic, released by Pfizer and its partner, BioNTech, shows the difference in covid-19 infection rates between the people in their trial who got a novel gene vaccine and the others who got a placebo.
The volunteers who were given a shot of placebo appear as the blue line. The ones who got a vaccine are in red. Each time either line jumps up, that’s when a new covid-19 case occurred.
What the data shows is that during the first week after getting their shots, both groups of people kept getting covid-19 at about the same rate. But after that, the lines start to separate. And they just keep separating, and separating.
That’s the result of the vaccine taking effect, which usually takes a few days and gets boosted by a second dose. After two weeks, hardly anyone with the vaccine was getting covid-19. But the disease kept striking those who got the placebo with clockwork regularity.
“No comment. This is what vaccines do,” said Florian Krammer, a prominent immunologist, who posted a version of the image to Twitter.
The triumphalism is justified. This is what the researchers have been working towards all year. And the data in this graphic leaves no room for rumors, politics, or uninformed commentary. It’s as plain as day: this vaccine is one of the best we’ve ever seen.
Pfizer presented the chart in a paper published on December 10 in the New England Journal of Medicine and earlier in the week as part of its application to the US Food and Drug Administration to begin selling the vaccine. That authorization could be given at any moment now that the agency’s advisers have voted in favor.