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How well does Pfizer’s Covid-19 vaccine work? What’s the difference between efficacy and effectiveness? And should the FDA approve Biogen’s Alzheimer’s drug?

We discuss all that and more on this week’s episode of “The Readout LOUD,” STAT’s biotech podcast. First, University of Florida biostatistician Natalie Dean joins us to break down Pfizer’s promising recent data on its vaccine for Covid-19. Then, following last week’s stinging setback for aducanumab, an Alzheimer’s disease treatment from Biogen, we interview to two people at the center of the story. Caleb Alexander, a Johns Hopkins epidemiologist, explains why he recommended against FDA approval for the drug, and Jeff Borghoff, who has early-onset Alzheimer’s and has received aducanumab, discusses why he believes it works.


For more on what we cover, here’s the news on Pfizer’s vaccine; here’s the latest on aducanumab; and here’s our complete coverage of the coronavirus pandemic.

We’ll be back next Thursday evening — and every Thursday evening — so be sure to sign up on Apple PodcastsStitcherGoogle Play, or wherever you get your podcasts.

And if you have any feedback for us — topics to cover, guests to invite, vocal tics to cease — you can email [email protected].


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  • I believe that the way in which the separate articles is written, “Listen: Pfizer’s Covid-19 vaccine data, the FDA’s Alzheimer’s quandary, and how to think like a biostatistician”, was possibly written to grab the attention of many people as your key words are some of the most popular. Since Pfizer and any Covid-19 vaccine is one of the highest-rated searches on GOOGLE, BING, along with others, it can be interpreted as one with Alzheimer’s might not be able to take the vaccine, especially if recommended by the FDA. I just wanted to make mention of this as I think these should have somehow been separately listed. Just my personal opinion as a medical writer of years.

  • Dear Authors,
    Always interesting.
    But I was surprised, there were no dialog or comments about potential bias and placebo effect (which would also pertain to a drug which have no efficacy ..) either in the dialogue with the patient or after ..
    The participant left being allowed to taint the reviewers as being nay sayers. And the reviewers were not really presented as being concerned about the potential marketing of a inferior drug, which might even make the recruitment to the studies of other potential drugs more difficult.
    Best regards,

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