When politics and science clash

We note that Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has recently embraced COVID-19 vaccine skepticism, and has formed a statewide group to investigate vaccine “wrongdoing.” But in so doing, he is testing the limits of how far political interests can usurp the role of science.

First, let’s consider how new medical procedures and treatments are tested before reaching the public. After rigorous early testing for dangers in animal and/or human volunteer subjects, large numbers of volunteer humans are divided randomly into those receiving the active agents (in this case, vaccines) and results are compared to an equal number receiving an identical, but inactive , formulation of that product (the “placebo” group). The two groups are then evaluated statistically for both efficacy and side effects.

In the case of new COVID vaccines, those receiving the active product have shown a dramatic reduction of both those becoming ill and, most importantly, those dying. By most estimates, this vaccine has prevented approximately 18.5 million hospitalizations and overall national mortality by over three million, meaning that the dramatic efficacy of this vaccine is beyond question.

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