Day 210 – The headlines, the story

Coronavirus vaccine headlines:


Coronavirus vaccine story:

A volunteer taking part in clinical trials of the Covid-19 vaccine developed by Oxford University has died in Brazil, officials announced on Wednesday, though media reports said he had received a placebo, not the test vaccine. Media reports said the volunteer was a 28-year-old doctor working on the front lines of the pandemic who died of complications from Covid-19.

So the volunteer did not receive any vaccine and he died of Covid-19.


The volunteer did not receive any vaccine and he died of Covid-19. 


But read those headlines and you’d likely think it was a completely different story.

In this world of (anti)social media and shared screenshots, it’s so vitally important that headline writers ensure that their work doesn’t misrepresent the actual story it titles. Because literally no-one reads the actual words underneath the big font any more. It’s just too much work and effort.

8000 doctors, nurses and other frontline workers who are regularly exposed to Covid-19 positive patients are taking part in the vaccine trial in Brazil, and only half of them will receive the test vaccine: that’s how double-blind, randomised, controlled studies work. Sadly, it’s likely that – despite the best efforts of PPE and barrier nursing – there will be further deaths amongst the volunteers. Importantly, we hope that they are not in the cohort who received the vaccine.

Incidentally, since we’re discussing this, it’s worth noting that this “disease of the elderly and unwell” had no issue with taking the life of an otherwise healthy 28 year old man with no known co-morbidities.

Wash your hands. Wear a mask.