Covid and the Information Overload Highway

We live in a world where knowledge is king and information has more value than our 401Ks.

We turn on our TVs, skim through our news apps, use Twitter and Facebook, and listen to our leaders. We are constantly bombarded with so many different bits of information that it can be impossible to piece them together into a cohesive story. Information overload. We can’t be blamed for not having the full story when the pages are constantly being rewritten.

Getting information about the COVID-19 vaccine is no exception. You’ve probably heard the following words and phrases: 95% effective, Moderna, Pfizer, AstraZeneca, Novavax. You’ve heard that Johnson & Johnson’s shot is only 1 injection but that it’s 72% effective. Terms like “mRNA vaccines” are spoken without any explanation of how they work. And “viral vectors” sound like something we want to keep out of our bodies, if we don’t understand what the term means. The Neon Medical Team wants to help cure your COVID information overload. Read on to learn more about key vaccine information.


Understanding Vaccine Trial Data


When we hear that a COVID vaccine is 95% effective, does that mean that 5% of vaccinated people will get infected? Not at all.

In the Pfizer trial, the percentage of vaccinated people who actually got COVID was much lower than that: 0.04%!1 Compared to participants in the trial who were not vaccinated, those who were vaccinated had a 95% lower risk of being infected with COVID. That means the vaccinated group was 20 times less likely than the nonvaccinated control group to be infected.1 The same is true for the J&J vaccine. Having an efficacy of 72% doesn’t mean that 28% of vaccinated people will still get COVID – it means that, in their clinical trial, people who were vaccinated had a 72% lower risk of being infected with COVID compared to those who weren’t vaccinated.



Efficacy Or Effectiveness


Now you might hear things like “vaccine efficacy” and “vaccine effectiveness.” These are 2 very different things. Vaccine efficacy is measured in properly designed, placebo-controlled clinical studies. Vaccine effectiveness, on the other hand, is a measurement of how well a vaccine performs in the real world.2 A good comparison would be the flu vaccine. The success of the seasonal flu shot is based on its vaccine effectiveness, ie, how well it reduces the risk of flu illness in the overall population. In fact, the flu vaccine effectiveness ranges between only 40% and 60% but we tend not to question that.3 Now, while we hope that the COVID vaccine effectiveness in the general public matches the vaccine efficacy in a clinical trial, there is a chance it might not. The only way to know for sure is for people to get vaccinated.

Vaccines Vs Variants


By now you’ve probably been hearing about new COVID variants that are popping up all over the world. Many viruses, not just COVID-19, mutate over time. Sometimes, these mutations may do nothing to the virus, or they may prove to be detrimental to it. Other times, the mutation may benefit the virus by allowing it to bind to our cells more tightly, to evade our immune system, or to make it more transmissible.

When a variant of the virus is formed, it can make it harder for the current vaccines to protect against this new version. Research is already underway, and we are learning more about the efficacy and, hopefully, the real-world effectiveness of the current vaccines against these new variants. In the meantime, getting vaccinated is an important step in preventing more variants. If we protect ourselves against the original COVID-19 strain, we are not allowing the virus an environment where it can mutate. Getting vaccinated not only stops the spread of COVID-19 but may help stop new variants from forming.

Fighting Back Against Information Overload


The world is at an inflection point right now. We’re trying to get the majority of the world’s population vaccinated to achieve herd immunity and fend off the emergence of new, possibly more transmissible and deadly variants. While there might be more arms than available vaccines right now, the tide will eventually turn in our favor. It’s up to us to take on the fight. Neon has the skills and experience to fight information overload when it comes to COVID-19. It’s up to us to take on the fight by researching, asking questions, and sharing information with others.

Please contact your account leads or if you have any questions or would like to discuss any of the above.


  1. Nowogrodzki A. COVID-19 vaccine: what does 95% efficacy actually mean? Live science. Accessed March 17, 2021.
  2. Zimmer C. Two companies say their vaccines are 95% effective. What does that mean? New York Times. Accessed March 17, 2021.
  3. CDC. Vaccine effectiveness: how well do the flu vaccines work? Accessed March 18, 2021.


The content of this article is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always talk to your physician or other qualified healthcare providers to answer any questions you may have.