Coronavirus Vaccines

Israel's early Covid-19 vaccine data offers hope

A woman receiving a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine at Clalit Health Services in Jerusalem on Sunday. The Israeli Health Ministry found that out of 428,000 Israelis who had received their second doses, only 63 - or 0.014 per cent - contracted the
A woman receiving a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine at Clalit Health Services in Jerusalem on Sunday. The Israeli Health Ministry found that out of 428,000 Israelis who had received their second doses, only 63 - or 0.014 per cent - contracted the virus a week later.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

JERUSALEM • Israel, which leads the world in vaccinating its population against the coronavirus, has produced some encouraging news. Early results show a significant drop in infection after just one shot of a two-dose vaccine, and better than expected results after both doses.

Public health experts caution that the data, based on the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, is preliminary and has not been subjected to clinical trials.

Even so, Dr Anat Ekka Zohar, vice-president of Maccabi Health Services, one of the Israeli health maintenance organisations that released the data, called it "very encouraging".

On Monday, the Israeli Health Ministry and Maccabi released new data on people who had received both doses of the vaccine, showing extremely high rates of effectiveness.

The ministry found that out of 428,000 Israelis who had received their second doses, only 63 - or 0.014 per cent - had contracted the virus a week later.

Similarly, the Maccabi data showed that more than a week after having received the second dose, only 20 out of roughly 128,600 people, about 0.01 per cent, had contracted the virus.

Both health service organisation Clalit and Maccabi warned that their findings were preliminary and added they would soon be followed by more in-depth statistical analysis in peer-reviewed scientific publications.

Israel, where more than 40 per cent of the population have received a first dose of the vaccine, has become something of an international test case for vaccination efficacy.

NYTIMES

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 27, 2021, with the headline 'Israel's early Covid-19 vaccine data offers hope'. Subscribe