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Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine reduces infections, according to an Israeli study

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Jerusalem (Reuters)-Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine significantly reduces viral infections, two Israeli studies have discovered and shed light on one of the biggest challenges in global efforts to quell pandemics I am.

File Photo: You can see the vial and syringe labeled “COVID-19 Coronavirus Vaccine” in front of the Pfizer logo in this figure, taken on February 9, 2021. REUTERS / DadoRuvic / Illustration / File Photo

A data analysis of a study by the Israeli Ministry of Health and Pfizer found that the Pfizer vaccine developed at BioNTech in Germany reduced infections by 89.4%, including asymptomatic cases, and 93.7%, including symptomatic cases. understood.

The results of a pre-published study, which has not yet been peer-reviewed, but is based on one of the world’s most advanced national databases, were first reported late Thursday by the Israeli news site Ynet and acquired by Reuters on Friday. I did.

Pfizer declined to comment, and the Israeli Ministry of Health did not respond to requests for comment.

Another study by the Sheva Medical Center in Israel, published Friday in The Lancet Medical Journal, found that asymptomatic COVID-19 was found within 15-28 days among 7,214 hospital staff who received their first dose in January. It was found to be reduced by 85% and overall 75% of infections, including asymptomatic cases detected by the test.

Further research is needed to reach definitive conclusions, but these are one of the first to suggest that vaccines do more than stop the spread of the new coronavirus and prevent people’s illness. ..

Michal Linial, a professor of molecular biology and bioinformatics at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, said the findings are a major step towards answering one of the most important questions in combating a pandemic.

“It doesn’t matter if it’s a 75% or 90% reduction, it’s a huge drop in transmission,” Linial said. “It not only protects the vaccinated individual, but it also protects his or her surroundings.”

Researchers said further research is needed on asymptomatic infections in fully vaccinated people because they are unlikely to be tested for COVID-19.

Vaccine developers also say that further research is needed on infectivity. In December, Germany’s BioNTech said it needed an additional 3-6 months of research.

“Dynamic virus”

Israel’s universal health insurance and advanced data capabilities, the world leader in vaccine deployment, have provided a national database that can provide insights on how effective vaccines are outside controlled clinical trials. ..

The Ministry of Health / Pfizer study analyzed data collected between January 17 and February 6 to see individuals who were completely vaccinated after receiving their second Pfizer shot.

To date, more than 30% of Israel’s 9 million population, or 2.8 million, have received both doses.

A Sheba study found that a first dose of Pfizer’s vaccine alone was 85% effective, which could lead to more debate about the recommended double-dose schedule.

In a letter released this week, Canadian researchers said they would delay the second dose of Pfizer in consideration of the high level of protection from the first shot in order to increase the number of people vaccinated. Suggested.

In December, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration showed that data from these trials began to provide some protection to recipients before the vaccine received a second injection, but evaluated the possibility of a single dose. He said more data would be needed to do this.

Pfizer said alternative vaccine plans have not yet been evaluated and the decision remains with health authorities.

Another caveat is that the cohort studied in the hospital was “almost young and healthy,” said Sheva epidemiologist Gili Legev Yochai.

Unlike Pfizer’s clinical trials, “there aren’t many (staff) over 65 years old here,” she told reporters. However, she also said the Sheva study was conducted during a surge in coronavirus infections in Israel, flooding hospitals with new cases.

Pfizer declined to comment on the data, stating in a statement that it was conducting its own analysis of “the actual efficacy of the vaccine in several parts of the world, including Israel.”

The results of both studies were compared to an overall efficacy of approximately 95% with a two-dose regimen at 21-day intervals. Researchers at the Ministry of Health / Pfizer have found that the vaccine is effective against British coronavirus variants, which account for about 80% of confirmed cases in Israel.

Eran Kopel, an epidemiologist at Tel Aviv University, said Sheba’s work was important, but because it focused on one hospital and a relatively small number of people, “drawing clear epidemiological conclusions from it. I couldn’t. “

He said the Ministry of Health data were promising, but required further research and regular research.

“Vaccination is a great tool, but it’s not the end. It’s a dynamic virus that has surprised the scientific community at a fast pace of change and diversity,” he said.

Additional report by Dan Williams of Jerusalem.Edited by Jane Merriman and Barbara Lewis

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