NASSAU, BAHAMAS — There is “no statistical difference” between the COVID-19 vaccines, according to Public Hospitals Authority (PHA) Chief Pharmacist Dr Marvin Smith.
Some Bahamians have expressed doubt and hesitancy towards AstraZeneca, viewing it as “substandard” compared to others such as Pfizer, Moderna or Johnson & Johnson’s.
Alluding to some vaccines having a higher efficacy rating than others, Smith said those figures, deriving from “controlled” clinical trials, pale in comparison to live data being gathered from real-world vaccinations.
In an interview with Eyewitness News, he said: “We have to look at this in terms of what are the actual results we’ve seen, what are the lab results we’ve seen and what are the actual on-the-ground clinical results.
“When we look at patients who are vaccinated, whether it’s with Pfizer, Moderna or AstraZeneca, across the board what we’re seeing is that these vaccines protect against infection.
“If people have what we call breakthrough infections, their symptoms and the intensity of their disease is less, their prognosis is better and their morbidity likelihood is less.
“Across the board, we see that AstraZeneca, Pfizer and Moderna, they all work particularly well for patients who are vaccinated.
“People say that this one has this rate and this one has that rate, but the fact of the matter is those are just clinical trials, controlled. When we look at the live data, across the board, the live data tells us that basically there’s no real clinical significance between them. They all work.”
Smith, who also serves as president of the Caribbean Association of Pharmacists, when asked why The Bahamas had received the AstraZeneca vaccine in particular, said: “You have to understand that approvals by country very often are determined by where a drug is made.
“So, you have Pfizer, which is a New Jersey-based company; you have Moderna, which is a brand new, American-based company; and you have Johnson & Johnson, which is an old American company.
“So, yes, they got to the front of the line for approvals and apart from being able to produce this vaccine — that should cost more money at a cheaper rate — and all these different things for the US population, they’re gonna be given some protectionism.”
He added: “That’s just the way this thing works. AstraZeneca is a UK company, so you saw that in the UK, they were approved first and those are the things that you have to look at.
“These are global sociopolitical moves that are made; nothing to do with whether it works or doesn’t work.”
Written by Eyewitness News Intern Gabrielle Sterling