Coronavirus I Coronavirus: what is a placebo and what is the difference with a vaccine?

The COVID-19 vaccine is getting closer and closer and clinical trials of main candidates they are already in their final stages. Most of these pre-vaccination studies, use placebos in their volunteers that do not suppose any pharmacological complement to treat any disease, simply are provided to see how that person reacts to possible immunity.

Placebos are substances that lack healing activities, but what may have a therapeutic effect if the person who ingests it or to whom it is given (as in this case the vaccine) is convinced that it is a really effective medicine.

Without active ingredients

This type of substances look the same as the original drug, but the difference is that does not include any active ingredient. Is made of inert products, that is, they lack any type of substance or product that can make the body better or worse.

Double blind method

Using placebos is very common in medical / scientific studies, as is the case with the vaccine. In current studies to find an effective drug that kills against COVID-19, some patients are receiving the parent vaccine, while others are receiving the placebo. Neither the volunteers nor the doctors know which one each patient is taking, that is, no one knows who was injected with the real drug or who was injected with the placebo. This is called double blind method.

At the end of the placebo studies, the results of all volunteers are compared and it is established whether the drug has superior efficacy to placebo. From there, it is defined whether or not to continue with the investigation.

Psychological effect

This type of product has a psychological effect and it is very recurrent that doctors prescribe it to hypochondriac people in which, as a general rule, there is no real pathology, but rather a psychic problem. With the placebo, these people believe that they are taking a medicine that will relieve their symptoms and, although it doesn’t really do any effect on their body, they will believe that it does.


Normally, the placebos used in medicine, They are usually made up of sugar or liquid serum without any activity. But the main component is the conviction of the patient that this drug is ending his ailment.

Placebo and vaccine

Therefore, the main difference between a placebo and a vaccine is that the former is simply a non-active liquid or sugar pill, while the second option really does have pharmacological effects.