On this episode of the podcast, Terry and Bob discuss the prospects of a Covid-19 vaccine, which the whole nation, indeed the whole world, is waiting on with bated breath. The CDC has told states to be ready to distribute a vaccine by November. The letter notes that HHS and CDC “are rapidly making preparations to implement large-scale distribution of Covid-19 vaccines in the fall of 2020.” Yet some experts say that next year is a more likely timeline.
Three vaccines are currently in Phase 3 clinical trials in the U.S: one from AstraZeneca/Oxford University, one from Moderna, and one from Pfizer/BioNTech. Pfizer expects to have its vaccine study results by the end of October, and AstraZeneca says it will have its between October and the end of 2020. According to a new study in The Lancet, a Russian-developed vaccine has also successfully developed antibodies in its participants.
Terry and Bob also give an update on ICER and distinguish the people who work for the organization from the organization’s mission. They argue that the whole idea of QALY, the metric that ICER uses to judge cost-effectiveness, is fatally flawed. For instance, it doesn’t consider how breakthrough medications will eventually become inexpensive generics. Perhaps there are widely used generic medications now that never would have existed because their brand-name predecessors would have been deemed not cost effective by ICER when they were released.
Terry puts forth an insightful analogy that conveys how ridiculous ICER’s QALY metric really is: Would ICER examine service dogs for veterans with PTSD under its QALY framework? If it did, it’s likely that countless people with this condition wouldn’t get their dogs, which go through extensive training and are extremely expensive. This thought experiment demonstrates how much of the human experience cannot be reduced to a dollar figure.
In celebration of Labor Day, patient correspondent Kate Pecora talks with Keisha Greaves, founder of the clothing brand Girls Chronically Rock. Keisha, who has muscular dystrophy, uses her business to raise awareness for the rare disease community. The clothing line is just the latest point in Keisha’s acceptance of having a rare disease.