Two Pfizer-BioNTech doses for COVID-19 provide over 95 per cent protection against infection, severe illness, hospitalization and death, as per the first national-level observational assessment of the vaccine’s effectiveness in Israel, published in The Lancet. According to an IE report, Israel is the first nation to report national data on the Pfizer-BioNTech, with observational analysis showing that two doses of the vaccine provide protection of more than 95 per cent among the elderly, at a time when the B.1.1.7 variant was the dominant strain. A single dose of this covid vaccine was associated with 58 per cent protection against infection, 76 per cent protection against hospitalization, and 77 per cent against death, emphasizing the importance of vaccinating adults fully.
It is also revealed in the analysis that for the first time, the public health benefits of a national vaccination programme, which was found to be the key driver of COVID-19 infections’ decline in Israel. While the findings are encouraging, the authors emphasize that several challenges to controlling the COVID-19 pandemic still remain. The immunity duration both from infection as well as immunization remains unknown, and emerging of new, vaccine-resistant variants is possible in the future. In addition to this, achieving herd immunity will need a continued increase of vaccination coverage globally.
Effectiveness of preliminary vaccine estimates of one Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine dose— approved for emergency use in Israel in December 2020 — have been reported in the United Kingdom, USA, Denmark, and Israel. VE estimates for two vaccine doses have also been carried out in a subset of the Israel population. However, national-level VE estimates of two doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine until now- the only vaccine for COVID-19 available in Israel during January 24 to April 3 study period – were unavailable for a range of key outcomes, including VE among the older people.
According to lead author Dr Sharon Alroy-Preis, from the Israel Health Ministry, as the nation with the highest proportion of its population given vaccine against COVID-19, a unique real-world opportunity is provided by Israel to determine the effectiveness of the vaccine as well as to observe wider effects of the vaccination programme on the health of the public. No country, until this point, had described the national public health impact of a countrywide vaccination campaign against COVID-19. Dr Sharon believes that these insights are hugely important because, while some considerable challenges are still there to overcome, they offer hope that vaccination for COVID-19 will eventually be able to control the pandemic.