Early Data Show Vaccine Even Better Than Advertised

An Israeli soldier prepares a Covid-19 vaccine at a Maccabi Health vaccination center at the Givatayim mall, outside Tel Aviv. The IDF has been assisting in the campaign. (Miriam ALster/Flash90)

Based on initial data from the Israeli vaccination program, the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine is every bit as good as advertised and even better.

Maccabi Healthcare Services disclosed on Monday that only 0.015 percent of people are getting infected in the week after receiving their second shot.

The HMO said that out of 128,600 of its members who received their second dose seven days ago only 20 have caught the coronavirus.

Leading immunologist Cyrille Cohen told The Times of Israel that among the general population, around 0.65% are infected in a given week.

The Maccabi study did not have a control sample for optimal analysis, but Cohen said that if the general population is treated as an “imperfect” control group, he calculates that the vaccine surpasses even the 95% effectiveness predicted by Pfizer’s clinical trial.

“These are exciting results which are confirming the assumption that the Pfizer vaccine is highly efficient,” he said.

Anat Ekka Zohar, the Maccabi analyst behind the research,told the Times that “while this is very early data, it is important data with broad relevance, as the whole world is looking to Israel for indications regarding how the vaccine will perform,” she said.

Zohar also noted that none of the 20 vaccinees who did contract covid was hospitalized or suffered from a serious fever. That may be an indicator that the vaccine prevents serious illness even when people are infected, she said, but added that it is impossible to know what trajectory their symptoms would have taken without the vaccine.

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