A covid-19 chart that has been shared thousands of times shows how vaccines against the disease can work and how we might get out of pandemic hell.
Today, advisers from the US Food and Drug Administration voted for emergency clearance for Pfizer’s covid-19 shot, and the data in this graph is a major reason.
The graph, released by Pfizer and its partner, BioNTech, shows the difference in covid-19 infection rates between people in their trial who received a new gene vaccine and those who received a placebo.
Volunteers who received a placebo injection appear as the blue line. Those who have received a vaccine are in red. Whenever one of the lines breaks, that’s when a new case of covid-19 has occurred.
What the data shows is that for the first week after receiving their injections, both groups of people continued to receive covid-19 at about the same rate. But after that, the lines start to separate. And they keep on going and parting.
This is the result of the vaccine taking effect, which usually takes a few days and is boosted by a second dose. After two weeks, almost no one with the vaccine was contracting covid-19. But the disease continued to strike those who received the placebo with mechanical regularity.
“No comment. That’s what vaccines do,” said Florian Krammer, a leading immunologist, who posted a version of the image on Twitter.
Triumphalism is justified. This is what researchers have been working on all year. And the data in this graph leaves no room for rumors, politics or uninformed commentary. It’s as clear as day: this vaccine is one of the best we’ve ever seen.
Pfizer presented the chart in a article published on December 10 in the New England Journal of Medicine and earlier this week as part of its request for the US Food and Drug Administration to start selling the vaccine. This permission could be given at any time now that the agency’s advisers have voted in favor.