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Israel study shows two doses of Pfizer vaccine give 95.3% protection from the virus

Over 70% of the population has received two doses of the vaccine.

An Israeli man receives a dose of Covid-19 vaccine in a clinic in the central Israeli town of Kfar Chabad.
An Israeli man receives a dose of Covid-19 vaccine in a clinic in the central Israeli town of Kfar Chabad.
Image: Xinhua News Agency/PA Images

A NATIONAL STUDY of Israel’s vaccine rollout has shown how receiving two doses of the Pfizer jab significantly reduces infection, hospitalisation, and death from the virus. 

The Lancet has studied the efficacy of the vaccine in Israel as it is the most vaccinated country so far. 

A single dose of the vaccine was associated with 58% protection against infection, 76% against hospitalisation, and 77% against death, which the Lancet said emphasised the importance of fully vaccinating adults.

Challenges to controlling the pandemic remain, including uncertainty about the duration of immunity, the possible emergence of vaccine-resistant variants, and the need to increase vaccine coverage.

The study found that two doses of the Pfizer vaccine provide more than 95% protection against infection, hospitalisation, severe illness, and death, including among the elderly, according to the first national-level observational assessment of its effectiveness in Israel.

The analysis, based on national data, also reveals for the first time the public health benefits of a national vaccination programme, which was found to be the key driver of a decline in infections in Israel.

Challenges

While the findings are encouraging, the authors stress that a number of challenges to controlling the pandemic remain.

The duration of immunity to Covid – both from infection and immunisation – remains unknown, and it is possible that new, vaccine-resistant variants could emerge in the future. 

Lead author, Dr Sharon Alroy-Preis, of the Israel Ministry of Health, said: “Until this point, no country in the world had described the national public health impact of a nationwide Covid-19 vaccination campaign. These insights are hugely important because, while there are still some considerable challenges to overcome, they offer real hope that Covid-19 vaccination will eventually enable us to control the pandemic.”

The stats

Vaccinations with the Pfizer vaccine began amid a surge of infections that led to a national lockdown in Israel on 27 December 2020.

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Daily infections peaked at 10,213 cases on 20th January 2021, and lockdown was lifted on 7 March 2021. By 3 April, 72% of people over 16 years, and 90% of those over 65 years, had received two doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.

The analysis revealed that the vaccine is highly effective against Covid for all people over the age of 16 years, providing 95.3% protection against infection and 96∙7% protection against death seven days after the second dose.

Protection against symptomatic and asymptomatic infection was 97.0% and 91.5%, respectively.

The vaccine is also highly effective for preventing hospitalisations and severe illness, providing 97.2% protection against hospitalisation overall and 97∙5% protection against severe and critical hospitalisation.

By 14 days after vaccination, protections conferred by a second dose increased to 96.5% protection against infection, 98.0% against hospitalisation, and 98.1% against death. 

“As vaccination programmes continue to ramp up around the world, more data is needed urgently about the effectiveness of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine against severe disease and death, and about the levels of protection, it provides to elderly people. Research examining long-term vaccine effectiveness will ultimately play a vital role in tackling the pandemic,” Dr Luis Jodar, Senior Vice President and Chief Medical Officer of Vaccines at Pfizer said.

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