In the midst of a global crisis, scientists are trying to solve an epistemologically intractable question. Defining whether a drug “works” has never been easy, a task vexed by methodological uncertainty, commercial pressures, statistical errors, or sometimes straight-out bad practices. Facing a new disease, researchers have to rethink what success even means. Is it lower mortality? Less disability upon recovery? Faster recovery? The answers are cryptic because the questions are just educated guesses.
There’s a lot of work being done on antibodies for the coronavirus and on the protein domains they recognize. This of course has bearing both on the idea of monoclonal antibody therapies and for the vaccines that are in development, so let’s have a look at the new data.
A vaccine that was developed a hundred years ago to fight the tuberculosis scourge in Europe is now being tested against the coronavirus by scientists eager to find a quick way to protect health care workers, among others. The vaccine seems to “train” the immune system to recognize and respond to a variety of infections, including viruses, bacteria and parasites, experts say.