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A Canadian study that greatly underestimated the safety of the COVID-19 vaccines provided against the Omicron variant is being revised – but not before it is widely accepted by anti-vaxxers, academics and even Russians. Do not spread widely on social media by the creators of Sputnik V Vaccine.
Ontario preprint study, which has not yet been reviewed, suggested that any three doses of mRNA COVID-19 vaccines were just 37 percent effective against Omicron infection, while two doses actually showed negative protection.
The preprint has been shared more than 15,000 times on Twitter in the two weeks since it was published, according to ultametric, a company that tracks where published research is posted online. It is in the top five percent of all research tracked so far.
The Group Behind Sputnik V result shared to his one million Twitter followers earlier this month, saying that the study showed the “negative efficacy” of two mRNA vaccine doses and the “quickly decreasing efficiency” of one booster. The group did not respond to questions from CBC News.
Dr. Vinay Prasad, also an associate professor of epidemiology at the University of California-San Francisco shared on twitter, asking why the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) would recommend a booster for Omicron.
Study findings updated with completely different results
But conflicting findings were later found to be influenced by behavioral and methodological issues, such as the timing of observational studies, the way vaccine passports changed individual exposure and changes in access to COVID-19 testing.
Jeff Kwang, the study’s lead author and an epidemiologist and senior scientist at the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences (ICES) in Toronto, said the results are currently being updated with additional data that show completely different results.
“We are in the process of adding two more weeks of data and there does not appear to be any more negative VE (vaccine effectiveness). Our results are now in line with data from the UK where it is definitely lower, compared to delta , but never going to be negative,” he told CBC News.
“And then the higher VE with Boost. So I think that’s good news and we’re just in the process of running those analyzes and we hope to have an updated version, a version two, sometime next week.”
a recent report The COVID-19 response team at Imperial College London found that while Omicron largely evades immunity from prior infection and two doses provide only zero to 20 percent protection, three doses increase it to between 55 and 80 percent .
This means the updated preprint could show that protection against Omicron infections is more than twice what was initially reported. As of Friday, the preprint study remained unchanged medRxiv website where it was posted.
CBC cited the study in an analysis story last week, but since then the reference to it has been removed until the data is updated.
The study was also highlighted by the federal government. COVID-19 Immunity Task Force Earlier this week, discrepancies were detected in the data.
A spokesperson in response to CBC News expressed concerns about the accuracy of the study, saying, “We’ve gotten in touch with Dr. Kwang and in fact he told us about the new data by Monday night.”
“As this week’s data changes things, we have pulled out a preprint from our journal which is being sent out today.”
Dr. Danuta Skoroneski, head of epidemiology and vaccine effectiveness specialist at the BC Center for Disease Control, which developed the vaccine study design used in the preprint, posted a Vaccination Last week urged “extreme caution” with the results.
“If you have a negative estimate, you want to start looking at, well, okay, which subgroup is driving it and why?” He told CBC News.
“Is it asymptomatic? Is it symptomatic? Is it the people who were screened for work? Is it the people who had the rapid antigen test? What is the group that is driving that paradoxical finding? Is?”
Skowronski said that until those questions are resolved, “all bets are off” on the interpretation of the results and “the validity of the study has to be questioned.”
“In the real world, we cannot control for people’s behavior, and so these studies are susceptible to a lack of comparability between vaccinated and non-vaccinated,” he said, adding that vaccine passports have dramatically changed the way the vaccine is administered in Ontario. Risk has changed.
“There are good reasons to believe that there is a very thin proportion of people who haven’t been vaccinated — that group is quite different from those who are now vaccinated.”
Study with online anti-vaxxers spread like wildfire
The study highlights the speed in which preliminary study results, which have not been peer-reviewed, can spread online in the pandemic and the way in which wrong conclusions can be weaponized to fit an agenda before being corrected .
Several people who shared the study on Twitter used anti-vaccination rhetoric to allege that the boosters didn’t work against COVID-19, while others said the vaccines were approved for emergency use by the FDA in the first place. Shouldn’t have been approved because they didn’t complete it. Initial 50 percent efficacy limit,
“It will certainly be used by bad actors to bolster support for their views about the lack of COVID-19 vaccination effectiveness,” said Ahmed Al-Ravi, assistant professor at Simon Fraser University’s School of Communication.
“I will immediately take this down and make some public statements about the study’s erroneous findings, as it has been widely shared on social media and will only confuse people more.”
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The study also didn’t specifically look at protection vaccines given against severe COVID-19, which has been shown to much more than the Omicron infection alone – Kwang says he and his colleagues will add something in a future version.
While COVID-19 vaccines do not provide complete protection against infection, they do a good job of preventing serious illness. new data The Public Health Agency of Canada found that Canadians who received two doses were 19 times less likely to be hospitalized than those who were not vaccinated.
“Several studies have shown modest protection against omicron infection from two doses, but better protection against more serious consequences such as hospitalization,” said Mark Lipsich, an epidemiologist at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health in Boston.
“This benefit outweighs any potential benefit of preventing infection or transmission.”
Lipsich said Skoronsky’s criticism of the study is valid. He has cautioned against comparing positive cases between people with symptoms not tested for various reasons, saying he strongly agrees that this approach could be a source of “substantial bias”.
“When investigators try to share early results in the interest of public health, as these people did, there is often a lot of uncertainty in those estimates,” said Dr. David Fisman said. ,
“But once people start using early versions of your work in support of misinformation, it’s a lot harder to detect.”
Skowronski said the rapid sharing of COVID-19 vaccine studies on social media has completely changed the research landscape, adding more pressure to get the right results.
“You need to ask yourself, why do we need to post this now? Why can’t it wait a week or two? How will this affect public and policy decision-making?” Skoronsky said.
“And if you can’t answer that, we really should be asking ourselves: Why are we rushing to preprint?”
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Skowronski released Study in 2010 showing paradoxical negative vaccine effectiveness during the 2009 H1N1 pandemic, finding that people who got the flu shot were more likely to be infected with the influenza strain than those who had the latter proved right,
But she previously believed the findings were methodologically incorrect, reached out to outside experts around the world, conducted several different studies, and worked with an international panel of experts.
“I learned lessons the hard way in 2009 for dealing with conflicting findings and the level of rigor required,” she said. “You don’t take it casually — it requires a lot of thinking, a lot of worry before you can even get over it.”
Dr. Ivan Oransky, Co-Founder retreat clock, a website that tracks errors in science journals, said that because the study turned out to be “flawed,” researchers should move quickly to update their findings.
“They’re doing the right thing. The question is, how quickly will they do it?” They said. “I mean, they’re talking about next week… but that’s an eternity in this day and age.”