Thu, 15 Apr 2021

Study offers proof of vaccine curbing spread of COVID-19

Robert Besser
24 Feb 2021, 15:56 GMT+10

TEL AVIV, Israel: An Israeli study has found the COVID-19 vaccine developed by Pfizer and BioNTech effective in preventing laboratory-confirmed infections.

According to a copy of a draft publication posted on Twitter, the study, which has yet to be peer reviewed, found the vaccine 89.4 percent effective in staving off a coronavirus infection, Bloomberg reported.

The results of the preliminary observational analysis, conducted by the Israeli Health Ministry with Pfizer and BioNTech, have also been confirmed by a person familiar with the work, it added.

If validated, the study, which is the latest positive report to emerge from Israel, will serve as the first real-world evidence of immunization being an effective tool in curbing the spread of COVID-19.

In addition, the study, which has also been reported in Der Spiegel, suggests the vaccine could help prevent the transmission of the virus by asymptomatic patients.

The results are significant, since clinical trials have so far only focused on the vaccine's safety and efficacy, but not its potential to curb symptomatic infections.

"These are the data we need to see to estimate the potential for achieving herd immunity with vaccines," Raina MacIntyre, professor of biosecurity at the University of New South Wales in Sydney, told Bloomberg.

"However, we do need to be able to see the data published in a peer-reviewed journal and to be able to scrutinize the data in detail," she added.

Pfizer and BioNTech have said they are working on a real-world analysis of data emerging from Israel. Declining to comment on unpublished data, the companies said they will share the data once it is complete.

The study covered people who had received two vaccine doses and whose data was collected more than seven days after they received their second jab.

Separately, Israeli authorities declared on February 20 the the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine was 99 percent effective in preventing fatalities among COVID-19 patients.

Israel, which launched its vaccine program on December 20 last year, has administered more COVID-19 vaccines per capita than any other country in the world. Nearly 50 percent of the Israeli population has received at least one dose of the vaccine.

Israel's immunization drive kicked off with the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine just before the B.1.1.7 variant emerged, triggering a third lockdown on January 8. About 27 percent of Israelis aged 15 and older had been vaccinated against COVID-19, as of February 6.

Between January 17 and February 6 this year, four-fifths of coronavirus cases in Israel were found to be caused by the highly transmissible UK strain of the virus.

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