Initial studies of Israeli vaccine urge data suggest that the first dose of the Pfizer shot reduces coronavirus infections by up to 50 percent after 14 days.
The news, announced by a top official from the Israeli Ministry of Health, offers a ray of hope for the rest of the world, as initial studies indicate that the vaccine not only stops symptoms but also reduces the risk of infection.
Now that Israel has rolled out the fastest vaccination program in the world, giving the first dose to nearly 20 percent of the population, studies of hundreds of thousands of people provide perhaps the most comprehensive real-life data on the vaccine’s efficacy.
But Dr. Sharon Alroy-Preis, head of the health department at the Ministry of Health, told Israel’s Channel 12 that the investigation was preliminary, and stressed the need for caution – even in those who received the first dose of injection.
Alroy-Preis noted that the data was not sufficient to conclude that the vaccine stops the transmission of Covid-19, as it is believed that a person can still spread the virus to others for a limited time while it is still in their nasal cavity .
She added that nearly one-fifth of more than 1,000 severe Covid-19 patients in the country had previously received the first doses of the vaccine.
“Seventeen percent of the new severe cases today, or 180 cases, are after the first dose,” she told reporters.
On Tuesday, Israel saw daily Covid-19 infections and active cases all hit time highs. On Tuesday, Israel reported 9,997 new cases – the highest number in a single 24 hours – and 46 deaths, after a record 67 deaths on Monday.
Israel is far ahead of other countries in terms of vaccination, with 23.66 doses per 100 people on Jan. 14. The second highest rate is achieved by the UAE, at 14.1 per 100 people. In comparison, the UK administered 4.52 per 100 people
Initial studies of Israeli vaccine urge data suggest that the first dose of the Pfizer shot reduces coronavirus infections by up to 50 percent after 14 days. Pictured: A woman is vaccinated against the COVID-19 coronavirus in the Israeli-annexed Golan Heights
Two other studies have also been done. One, by healthcare provider Maccabi, found that the vaccine reduced the risk of someone contracting the coronavirus by 60 percent 14 days after getting the first shot.
Israel’s Channel 13 News reported that a third study by Clalit, another healthcare provider, found that the vaccine reduced the risk by only 33 percent after 14 days, a less optimistic figure.
On Tuesday, Israel saw daily Covid-19 infections and active cases hit all time highs, and despite the optimistic signals, the country’s health minister also stressed that extreme caution is still needed.
The vaccine is not expected to give a person 95 percent immunity to Covid-19 until one week after receiving the second dose of the vaccine. The rollout of the second dose in Israel is scheduled to begin this week The Times of Israel.
Speak against The TelegraphYuli Edelstein, the country’s health minister, warned there was still a risk of contracting the virus within two weeks of getting the shot, saying Israelis should remain vigilant.
“Those who get the first shot still have to be very, very careful about their behavior, because of the partial resistance to the disease,” said Edelstein.
Israel has made a leap forward in the global vaccination race by squeezing every last dose from its vaccine supplies and using its efficient health system to launch a 24/7 vaccination program with military assistance. Pictured: Mass Vaccination Center in Tel Aviv
“In my imagination it’s like the scene from the movie where you almost escape danger and take a bullet at the very last moment.”
He added, “It shows what we already know, which is that 95 percent full protection comes after two shots.”
The two studies conducted by health maintenance organizations (HMOs) collected the data from about 400,000 patients they treated (800,000 in total), with the reason behind the discrepancy (60 percent and 33 percent) currently unclear.
The Clalit study compared test results from a group of 200,000 people who had received the vaccine with a sample of 200,000 Israelis who had not received the shot.
The full results of the study have yet to be released or peer reviewed.
The Israeli vaccination program is the fastest in the world to date and has given the vaccine to more than two million people – about 20 percent of the population.
The program runs 24/7, even on the Jewish guard day of Shabbat, and is boosted by hundreds of Israeli combat medics who have been called to their service.
Since Pfizer’s phase 3 studies checked only 40,000 people, the data from the Israeli vaccination campaign could provide some of the best indicators of the effectiveness of coronavirus vaccines.
The Times of Israel reports that the last number given by officials was 1,910,330 – although Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu held a ceremonial event on Tuesday to celebrate the 2 millionth vaccine.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will visit the anti-coronavirus vaccination facility in the northern Israeli Arab city of Nazareth on January 13, 2021.
Israel has reported a total of 520,060 confirmed coronavirus cases since the start of the pandemic, with 3,817 related deaths.
On Tuesday, Israel reported 9,997 new cases – the highest in a single 24 hours – and 46 deaths, following a record 67 deaths on Monday.
Like many countries, Israel is facing a second wave of the virus in the winter, after the number of new infections and related deaths dropped in November.
On January 5, the government announced a nationwide full two-week lockdown, effective January 7. The lockdown will expire at the end of the month, but will almost certainly extend as new cases and deaths continue to increase.