I'm been mulling over how to explain the potential impact of strange data processing procedures used in the observational studies of Covid-19 vaccines. These are by no means standard operating procedures.

And I think I've landed on one explanation that is tantalizing.

***

Imagine a football (soccer) match that is tied 0-0 and heading into overtime. Overtime is a 30-minute affair, played through, and not sudden death. The overtime period is divded into two 15-minute halves with a short break in the middle.

That is the standard operating procedure.

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Now, we are going to change the rulebook.

The first additional rule is that **any goal scored in the first 10 minutes of overtime doesn't count**. This rule is inspired the "case counting window" used in the Covid-19 vaccine studies. We're justifying it because players need time to get back to their optimal condition after the exhausting 90-minute regulation time. Therefore, it is not fair to count goals scored at the start of overtime.

The second additional rule is that **any goal scored in the first 10 minutes of overtime by the visiting team doesn't count but those scored by the home team counts. **How should I justify this rule? Well, to establish the need for recovery time, we take vitals of the players. The measuring machines are only installed in the home locker rooms and not the guest locker rooms, and thus, we are unable to determine if the guest players are at their optimal condition. This rule is inspired by not applying the case counting window to non-vaccinated people since we can't determine when they took the second shot (unlike the situation in clinical trials, when non-vaccinated people are given placebo shots.)

The third additional rule divides the first 10 minutes into two parts, and stipulates that **if someone scores in the latter part (i.e. minutes 6-10), then they are immediately kicked out of the match, and their goal doesn't count. **This rule is inspired by the special exclusion criterion disclosed in the booster study I've been discussing (link).

This third rule is complicating as it modifies the previous rules. Taken together, we have the following scenarios: for the home team, if they score in the first 5 minutes, the goal counts; if they score in minutes 6-10, the scorer is kicked out of the match, and the goal is disallowed. For the away team, if they score in the first 10 minutes, the goal is always disallowed; in addition, if the goal is scored in minutes 6-10, the scorer is ejected.

***

One can easily get lost in the details of pharmaceutical studies and lose sight of the implications of the methodologies. Transferring the context to sports helps me grasp the effects of these data processing procedures. Hope this helps you too.

PS [8-4-2023] In my haste to put down my thoughts relating to this analogy, I skipped a rule. This is a Rule #2.5. This rule says that **if a goal is scored in the first 10 minutes of overtime by the visiting team, it is counted as a goal scored by the home team. **In Rule #2, the away-team goal is just disallowed; in Rule #2.5, the goal is added to the home-team tally. This rule is inspired by the booster study, in which they kept people in the no-booster group for 7 days after they took the booster.

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