- BBC World News
Preliminary results of the coronavirus vaccination in Israel show that the vaccine appears to be effective in reducing both infections and cases requiring hospitalization.
Israel has one of the most advanced vaccination programs in the world due to a special agreement with the pharmaceutical company Pfizer, producer of the Pfizer / BioNtech vaccine.
With the agreement, Israel promised to offer essential medical data on vaccination in exchange for an accelerated immunization program in its population.
And thus it has become the country that has vaccinated the largest percentage of the population and a test of the effectiveness of vaccines for the rest of the world.
According to data from the Israeli Ministry of Health, about 1.7 million people, almost 19% of the population of 9 million, have already received the two doses required by the vaccine.
And about 3 million people have already received the first dose.
Last week the Ministry of Health published the first results of the vaccination.
These show that only 0.4% of people were infected one week after being vaccinated and only 0.002% of those vaccinated had to be admitted to hospital.
Another study from one of the country’s medical service providers, Maccabi Health Care Services, also published a small study on vaccination.
This shows that among those who have already received both doses of the vaccine, only 0.04% were infected.
According to the organization, this preliminary data suggests that the vaccine is 92% effective, very close to the 95% effective that the Pfizer trials showed.
The experts, however, They ask for caution as these results are preliminary and they have not been reviewed by other scientists.
“Although these results are shocking, it is very important to note that there was no direct control group or data on the demographics and geography of the people vaccinated,” he told The Times of Israel immunologist Cyrille Cohen, a professor at Bar Ilan University.
Likewise, experts note that comparing the calculations from a study like Maccabi’s with the results of Pfizer’s trials can be misleading as an entire population has many more variables and constantly changing scenarios.
Eran Segal, a computational biologist at Israel’s Weizmann Institute of Sciences, told The Guardian that a society “cannot act like a Petri dish” for a vaccination test.
“When you vaccinate a nation there are a lot of confounding factors,” Segal explains.
“This (vaccination program) is not a trial. That is the problem. We must be very cautious “, adds.
The country hopes to vaccinate all its inhabitants over the age of 16 by the end of March.
Yet despite its advanced vaccination program, Israel is mired in a debilitating wave of infections and national lockdown that has failed to reduce death rates.
In total, it has registered 640,000 cases of covid since the pandemic began and 4,700 deaths according to data from Johns Hopkins University.
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Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.