After vaccinating 4.25 million people, Israel health ministry says Pfizer Covid-19 jab 95.8% effective

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Recent data showed that two doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech jab are nearly 96% effective against the coronavirus infection, said Israel’s health ministry on Saturday after its aggressive vaccination campaign.

The ministry said that the vaccine had proved 95.8% effective in preventing the disease two weeks after the beneficiaries received their second shot, as compared to unvaccinated people, according to data compiled up to February 13.

It added the jab was 99.2% effective against serious illness and 98.9% effective in preventing death.

For those tested one week after receiving a second jab, the vaccine was 91.9% effective against infection, 96.45% effective in preventing serious illness and 94.5% in preventing death.

The overall efficacy of the vaccine was earlier pegged at around 95% in a two-dose regimen 21 days apart.

Efficacy of first dose

A recent study of healthcare workers at an Israeli hospital has found that Pfizer Inc’s vaccine is 85% effective after the first shot.

The Sheba Medical Center’s said that among 7,214 hospital staff who received their first dose in January, there was an 85% reduction in symptomatic Covid-19 within 15 to 28 days. The overall reduction of infections, including asymptomatic cases detected by testing, was 75%.

However, Sheba epidemiologist Gili Regev-Yochay cautioned that the cohort studied at the hospital were “mostly young and healthy”.

The jab developed by US pharma giant Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech is based on novel mRNA technology and was the first vaccine against Covid-19 to be approved in the West late last year.

Israel, which has one of the world’s most sophisticated medical data systems, secured a substantial stock of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine by paying above market price and by striking a data-sharing deal with the US company.

Fastest vaccination drive

Israel’s inoculation campaign is regarded as the world’s fastest, with one dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine administered to 4.25 million people out of its nine million-strong population since December, according to the latest health ministry figures.

Some 2.88 million people have received the recommended full course of two jabs.

“Our goal is to continue vaccinating all our population aged 16 and up, to reach a wide coverage of the population that will enable us to return to our much-missed routines,” health ministry director-general Hezi Levi said in a statement Saturday.

The small country—with roughly nine million people, about the same as New York City—now aims to inoculate the majority of its population by March.

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