As COVID Vaccines Head into Phase 3 Trials Big Pharma Prepares for Increase in Flu Vaccines for Fall

Syringe, needle and medicine vial.

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11 June, 2020 by Brian Shilhavy
Editor, Health Impact News

An article published in FiercePharma, a pharmaceutical marketing trade publication, is reporting that the National Institute of Health is preparing to test experimental COVID vaccines entering into phase 3 of development on over 90,000 people this summer.

The three drug companies entering phase 3 trials are Moderna, AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson.

As leading coronavirus vaccines make their way through early stages of human testing, the NIH is plotting much larger efficacy studies this summer. U.S. researchers plan to run phase 3 trials of vaccines from Moderna, AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson in the coming months, the Wall Street Journal reports.

The NIH intends to start a phase 3 trial of Moderna’s vaccine in July, followed by an August trial of AstraZeneca’s vaccine and a September study of Johnson & Johnson’s shot, a U.S. government researcher told the newspaper.

All three of the shots are based on brand-new technologies, and they’re all reportedly among finalists in the Operation Warp Speed program. Former FDA chief Scott Gottlieb has publicly questioned the picks, pointing out the team’s reliance on new technologies.

The government-funded phase 3 studies will enroll about 30,000 people each, testing the vaccines against placebo in places where the virus is circulating, WSJ reports. The aim is to see whether the candidates can protect vaccinated individuals against infection.

Aside from the NIH plans, Pfizer could start a phase 3 trial as early as next month, a source told the WSJ. Down the road, the NIH could launch studies of other vaccines, John Mascola, the head of NIAID’s vaccine research center, told the publication. Anthony Fauci, head of the NIAID, said at BIO’s digital conference Tuesday he expects “more than one” vaccine to succeed. (Source.)

Given the recent bad publicity Moderna received from the small sample size tested so far (see: COVID Experimental Vaccine Victim Claims “Sickest in His Life” after Being Injected with Experimental Vaccine), one has to wonder if the drug companies will be transparent in releasing the results of these trials, both negative and any positive outcomes.

Given the fact that the U.S. taxpayers are picking up the tab on these trials, the companies have a legal and moral obligation to be transparent in the results of these trials.

More Flu Shots – More Ways to Get it Fall 2020

Meanwhile, flu vaccine manufacturers are already preparing for this fall’s flu season and planning on manufacturing more flu vaccines than they did last year.

Manufacturers distributed about 170 million flu vaccine doses to the U.S. last year. This year, they’re aiming to increase that by about 20 million, Elaine O’Hara, Sanofi Pasteur’s North America head of commercial operations, told FiercePharma. Vaccine makers are already producing their doses, with plans to start shipping later this summer.

Sanofi is getting ready to ship up to 80 million flu vaccine doses this year, she said—an increase from 70 million last year. Seqirus shipped 52 million doses last year, and it’s planning to increase that number by about 10% for the coming season, Ross said. GlaxoSmithKline, the third major flu vaccine player, shipped 46 million doses last year and is planning to ship 50 million this year, a spokesman said.

According to FiercePharma, the manufacturers are looking at “creative ways” of injecting more people, by setting up mobile clinics in parking lots, parks or community centers. I would not be surprised to see them giving them out in churches and other religious institutions as well.

What changes can Americans expect changes to routine flu vaccinations this year? They could include clinics set up in parking lots, parks or community centers to allow for appropriate distancing between people. Plus, flu vaccinations could start earlier and go later than usual, Ross said.

Experts want to do whatever it takes to make sure flu vaccines aren’t wasted, O’Hara said. During the H1N1 pandemic, many doses were eventually discarded, she said.

“We’re really trying to prevent that from happening,” she said. (Source.)

Big Pharma Spends on Advertising on Social Media to Push Their Drugs

As we have reported many times here at Health Impact News, anything published on vaccines that is negative is quickly labeled as “Fake News” on the Social Media giants such as Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest, among others. The same is true for any natural treatments for COVID-19.

An article published this week by Beth Snyder Bulik in FiercePharma reveals that Big Pharma invests heavily in tracking social media conversations about COVID treatments and other drugs, and also in advertising and using “influencers” to get their message out.

There can be no doubt now that Social Media companies work with Big Pharma while suppressing any other natural treatments that would compete with them.

Titled “As COVID-19 social media fatigue sets in, pharma begins to restart other health conversations,” Bulik reveals that pharmaceutical companies have social media managers who monitor online conversations, and then use that same media to direct these conversations.

Evoke Kyne and its new social media chief Kate Callan have been tracking social media conversations throughout the crisis, and the latest numbers show a 65% drop in global conversations around COVID-19, from 204 million weekly mentions in mid-March to just 71 million in late May. The mood around those conversations is also shifting away from disgust, which is still the top feeling at 34%, toward feelings such as anticipation, now at trending at 15% of the conversation mood.

Social media strategy suggestions are changing, too. When the health crisis and lockdowns initially began, Evoke Kyne counseled clients that were not directly involved in treatments or vaccines to slow or stop posting on social media.

Now that consumers are signaling readiness for other health topics, Evoke will continue to tap social listening to draw up new social plans for pharma. The group is analyzing conversations that reflect patients’ needs or problems and then working to create solutions. (Source.)

With the decreasing popularity of the “mainstream” corporate media, it is hardly surprising that Big Pharma is now trying to control all the conversations about vaccines and other drugs on Social Media now.

In an article last month (May, 2020), “The top pharma companies in social media, ” Beth Snyder Bulik addressed this shift in strategies:

Social media is no longer just a numbers game for pharma companies. Counting followers, tallying likes or tracking shares was a good start, but numbers alone can’t tell if business goals are met.

That’s especially true in the current era of paid promotions, where numbers can be artificially inflated. Pharma companies today need to figure out how social media helps them reach the right influencers and key opinion leaders, drive traffic to websites or change perceptions of the products or company.

Pharma companies have advanced over the past few years from experimenting with social media channels to adopting robust social strategies linked across media channels. Social media is now the “shopfront window of the industry,” as Ogilvy Health describes it, where employees, media, healthcare professionals and patients can meet and assess pharma companies directly.