Three separate covid vaccine trials have now had their results published in peer-reviewed journals (Astra-Zeneca, Pfizer, and Moderna), and the vaccines have already been approved for use in multiple countries. In light of that, I think it’s time to look in to how effective and safe the vaccines are, especially considering that many of us are about to be given the option to take them (and some of us already have).
I graduated from medical school in January 2020. Long before starting to study to be a doctor, I had become interested in how diet and health are related, with a particular interest in the paleolithic diet. I think this was borne primarily out of my strong interest in evolution and biology – it just made sense that the diet humans were evolutionarily adapted to over the course of millions of years would also be the diet that is healthiest for us.
You would think that governments always do a cost-benefit analysis before embarking on a certain course of action, especially if it is likely to have significant effects on many different aspects of society. The global lockdowns in response to the covid pandemic probably constitute the largest, most extreme measures taken by western governments since the second world war. So, you would think a careful cost-benefit analysis would have been done before the decision was made to lock down.
One of the fears of many people in relation to covid has been that the immunity that develops after infection is so short lived that the infection will just keep going around and around and re-infecting everyone (until everyone is dead, I assume).
A few months back I wrote an article about the state of the evidence on face masks. At that point, there were no good studies looking at the effectiveness of face masks in preventing the spread of covid-19 specifically, but there was a systematic review that looked at all randomized trials that had been done on face masks for the prevention of respiratory infections more generally. That review found that surgical face masks reduced the probability of getting a respiratory infection by around 4% in absolute terms (17% in relative terms).
I’ve been getting questions about long covid and my standard answer has been that I don’t think it’s any different from post-viral syndrome, a condition that affects some people after a viral infection but that usually clears up within a few months. I’ve been generally sceptical of claims of long covid as some distinct entity for a couple of reasons.