Let’s face it. Over-the-counter and prescription drugs are a big market financially. The Covid-19 vaccine has drug manufacturers clamoring for approval from FDA and European Medical Agency. The problems of producing the best Covid-19 vaccine is limited, short clinical trials and new mutations of Covid-19 viruses that are even more contagious than one year ago. A Covid-19 vaccine being authorized right now FOR EMERGENCY USE is not really science at its best. With millions of doses released, emergency use means the clinical trial that manufacturers should have done pre-market. Scientific experiments have regressed to Quasi-experiments. What does that mean?
Having an availability of a Covid-19 vaccine is the first positive step toward mediating this pandemic but getting Pfizer or Moderna Covid-19 vaccine doesn’t necessarily mean a victorious cure. It’s an increment of many revisions. In many senses, we are participants in a clinical trial of vaccines that should have been tested over past 12 months. We will discover whether these vaccines are empirical science or quasi-science. To what degree are these Covid-19 vaccines true or fake?
The scientific method is based on theories. But in measuring and experimenting with that theory you have to be prepared to disprove the theory. Yet, the best funded, large sample, experiments are usually funded by pharmaceutical manufacturers. They want their product to be the best, or best accepted by doctors and the public. After nearly a year, dozens of companies have been seeking a vaccine for Covid-19. The winner gets many prizes. Are these experiments or quasi-experiments?
A quasi-experiment is an experiment that seems to read as science but is manipulated in one or more ways to come up with an answer, usually based on the sponsor’s goal. Experiments are expensive. With businesses granting funds for experimentations, some facts are compromised. A drug to reduce cholesterol may do it but it may kill your liver and muscles. Such is the problem of using a quasi-experiment to state what is a skewed fact.
In a true experiment, participants are randomly assigned to either the treatment or the control group, whereas they are not assigned randomly in a quasi-experiment. Quasi-experiment research designs do not randomly assign participants to treatment or control groups for comparison. Quasi-experiment research involves the manipulation of an independent variable without the random assignment of participants to conditions or orders of conditions. Among the important types are nonequivalent groups designs, pretest-posttest, and interrupted time-series designs. A quasi-experiment research is research that resembles experimental research but is not true experimental research. A quasi-experiment is designed to resemble the scientific method, at least, according to the experiment sponsor.
Quasi-experiments evolved as a term through a series of research studies in validity through early empirical psychology. It impacted social psychology. Donald Campbell privately distributed a paper in 1953 entitled “Designs for
Social Science Experiments.”
The special relationship of randomization to internal validity was given such prominence that the term experiment was taken to mean a randomized experiment unless otherwise noted. These )otherwise noted” developed as quasi-experiments or untraditional experiment models. This was a decade before modes of strict ethics impacted psychology experimentation, shifting to other sciences.
Today, ethical science experiments require test-retest under same conditions, with different randomized groups of people to check if similar or different results are found.
Quasi-experiments are most likely to be conducted in field settings in which random assignment is difficult or impossible. They are often conducted to evaluate the effectiveness of a treatment—perhaps a type of psychotherapy or an educational intervention. There are many different kinds of quasi-experiments:
Nonequivalent Groups Design, as indicated above.
Pretest-Posttest Design a dependent variable is measured once before the treatment is implemented and once after it is implemented. There is no test/retest or long trial experiment
Combination Designs -There is a treatment group that is given a pretest, receives a treatment, and then is given a posttest. But at the same time there is a control group that is given a pretest, does not receive the treatment, and then is given a posttest. The question, then, is not simply whether participants who receive the treatment improve but whether they improve more than participants who do not receive the treatment.
Then statistics might be skewed to have results favor the sponsor. An example happened over 20 years ago.
News reports flashed that eating grapes improved eye health. A research study showed that grapes are high in Lutein, which is known to improve eye health. As news spread, consumption of grapes, grape juice, and red wine was much higher, The study’s sponsor was Welch’s – a grape product distributor. That was a quasi-experiment.
Substantial amounts of lutein and zeaxanthin (30–50%) are also present in kiwi fruit, spinach, orange juice, zucchini (or vegetable marrow), and different kinds of squash. And grapes. Subsequent studies over the years prove that these lutein micronutrients are anti-inflammatory and is known to improve or even prevent age-related macular disease which is the leading cause of blindness and vision impairment, according to a 2018 study published 2018 by the USA National Institutes of Health.
Covid-19 is a monster beyond many proportions and a vaccine against it but there’s more to finding a Covid-19 vaccine than a quasi-experimental search will deliver. The values gained by Pfizer and Moderna are hopefully well. My fears are that these are placebos or worse. Some real empirical scientific studies need to be done. It could take another year. These Covid-19 vaccine variations may still be derived from philosophical and economic outlooks. The empirical experiment often takes more time.
Today the key feature common to all experiments is still to deliberately vary something so as to discover what happens to something else later-to discover the effects of presumed causes. Covid-19 has many. Impatience or deadlines or increasing stock values aren’t experimental goals. My fear is that all vaccines against Covid-19 still remain to be philosophical than true science. For now, we are the participants and witnesses of a clinical trial that should have been tested and retested in empirical settings. Is a Covid-19 vaccine a reality or a dream? Answers lie in the future.