Israel, which is in the middle of an aggressive immunization campaign, has more good news about COVID-19 vaccines. A recent study showed that the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine widely used in the country works as intended. Researchers in Israel compared nearly 600,000 people who were fully vaccinated to the same amount of people who never had COVID-19. They found the vaccine is just as effective as clinical trials have shown. The study showed the vaccine could prevent severe COVID-19, hospitalization, and deaths. The data is all the more important as the study showed the vaccine works against the highly infectious UK mutation that spread to Israel and other regions.
Israel is back with another piece of research that further confirms that COVID-19 vaccines work as intended. New data shows that less than 3% of all seriously ill coronavirus patients in the country have been fully vaccinated. This indicates the drug is very effective at preventing severe COVID-19 cases and deaths.
The Pfizer vaccine showed a 95% efficacy at preventing severe COVID-19 during the clinical trial’s final stage. No vaccine is 100% effective, but the Pfizer results were much better than the best estimates leading up to the trials. Some of the mutations that have appeared over the past few months might reduce the effectiveness of vaccines, especially the Brazilian and South African variants, but the vaccines should still provide protection.
On Sunday, Israel’s Health Ministry announced that 6,095 COVID-19 patients have been hospitalized in serious or critical condition since the vaccination campaign started. Only 175 had received a second dose, which is 2.87% of the total. The statistics also show that 4,589 patients (75%) had not received their first dose.
According to the Times of Israel, almost 5 million people have received at least one vaccine dose, and over 3.71 million Israelis have gotten both vaccine doses. Israel has a population of 9.32 million.
The Health Ministry also announced on Sunday that 1,923 new cases were diagnosed a day prior, with the positivity rate standing at 4.3%. That’s nearly 6% lower than in January when it surpassed 10%. Israel reported 40,650 active cases, of which 724 were in serious condition — 262 were critical, and 210 people were on ventilators.
The number of new cases and deaths have been declining from the highs in January, and the number of seriously ill patients has dropped to the lowest point since last year, the report notes.
The new data also revealed that 25% of severe cases are under the age of 50. Severe COVID-19 cases are more common in the younger population now that the new mutants are spreading.
The country has started easing restrictions, with much of the economy having opened on Sunday, including restaurants, cafes, hotels, as well as more schools in regions with low-to-medium infection rates. The Times says that higher education institutions and religious seminaries were also opened to vaccinated or recovered people.
International travel is also opening slowly. There won’t be an approval process for returning Israelis. 1,000 people a day will be able to enter the country from New York, Frankfurt, London, and Paris. The number will go up to 3,000 later this week.