Employees in an Israeli vaccination station: a good 60 percent of the population in Israel has already been vaccinated
Photo: Gil Cohen Magen / Xinhua / imago images
In Israel, around five million people have now been vaccinated with the preparation from Biontech / Pfizer, around 60 percent of the total population.
No other country has so far been able to keep up with this high vaccination rate.
Now Israel has released further data on the effectiveness of the vaccine.
These are the first findings at national level under real conditions.
The study published in the journal "The Lancet" confirms the high effectiveness of the vaccine after the second dose: Fully vaccinated people are therefore protected to more than 95 percent both from infection with Sars-CoV-2 and from the risk of a severe course to get to the hospital or to die.
The protection therefore also applies to older people.
The data was collected between the end of January and the beginning of April, when the more contagious corona variant B.1.1.7, which first appeared in Great Britain, was already circulating in Israel.
It can therefore be assumed that the Biontech / Pfizer agent also protects against this mutant.
Vaccination campaign has contained pandemic
So far, the Covid-19 vaccines have mainly been tested in clinical studies with tens of thousands of participants.
In the meantime, however, there are countries, institutions or population groups of which very large proportions have already been vaccinated.
These case studies from practice help, among other things, to gain further knowledge regarding the effectiveness and safety of vaccines.
Due to the high vaccination rate, Israeli researchers can already draw good conclusions about the tolerance of the vaccine and its importance for the development of the pandemic in the country.
According to the study, the extensive vaccination campaign in Israel was one of the most important factors in reducing the number of cases.
With such a large proportion of people vaccinated, tolerance problems are also known.
Last week Israel reported that it was investigating dozen cases of myocarditis, which occurred chronologically after vaccination, mostly in young men.
The companies Biontech and Pfizer also assured that they would examine the cases.
Duration of vaccination protection unknown
The authors of the current study emphasize that despite the encouraging data, there are still a number of uncertainties.
So far, nothing is known about how long immunity to Covid-19 lasts - whether after a vaccination or after an illness.
Furthermore, there is the possibility that mutations that are resistant to the vaccines are increasingly forming.
It is therefore important to speed up vaccination campaigns around the world, according to the study.
In the study, the researchers refer to the anonymized data of vaccinated persons, which are deposited with the Israeli Ministry of Health, and divided the vaccinated persons into age groups.
They found out that the vaccination protection is just as strong in the elderly as in the younger ones. Those over 85 years old had 94.1 percent protection against infection with the virus seven days after the second dose. They were 96.9 percent protected from hospital and 97 percent from dying. In the age group of 16 to 44 year olds, the protection was slightly higher - according to the analysis, the vaccination protects almost 100 percent from a fatal course.
The results of the study show the importance of receiving the second dose of the vaccine. The data also shows that protection already exists after the first dose: 57.7 percent from infection with Sars-CoV-2, 75.7 percent from a severe course with hospitalization and 77 percent from a fatal course. But the authors of the study warn that too little is known about the length of protection after the first vaccination dose. The time window in which you are protected from Covid-19 may be shorter than after two doses, it is said.
In order to assess the public health effect of the vaccination campaign, the researchers examined the number of infections from late December to early April. During this period there was a tough lockdown in Israel from December 27th to March 4th. At the same time, Israel began vaccinating its population in a large-scale vaccination campaign. Infections in those over 65 initially rose to an incidence of up to 55 by mid-January. However, after most in this age group received the second dose of Biontech, the numbers began to decline, with the incidence at around 30 in early February. Similar observations can be made in other age groups.
The 7-day incidence in Israel is currently around five new infections per 100,000 inhabitants.
The study authors attribute the low number of cases to the effect of the vaccination.
However, the results can only be transferred to other countries to a limited extent.
This requires further studies under real conditions in other countries, the authors write.