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Citing Israel data, Pfizer says vaccine 97% effective against symptomatic COVID

Study by pharmaceutical firms finds inoculation is even better at preventing disease than initially thought; prevention against asymptomatic contagion reaches 94%

People receive COVID-19 vaccine injections in a mobile Magen David station at the Mahane Yehuda market in Jerusalem on February 22, 2021. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)
People receive COVID-19 vaccine injections in a mobile Magen David station at the Mahane Yehuda market in Jerusalem on February 22, 2021. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

Pfizer-BioNTech’s coronavirus vaccine offers more protection than previously thought, with its effectiveness in preventing symptomatic disease reaching 97 percent according to real-world evidence published Thursday by the pharmaceutical companies.

Using data from January 17 to March 6 from Israel’s national vaccination campaign, Pfizer-BioNTech found that prevention against asymptomatic disease reached 94 percent.

An earlier real-world study using data from between December 20, 2020, and February 1, 2021, had showed effectiveness at preventing symptomatic disease at 94 percent and asymptomatic illness at 92 percent.

“This comprehensive real-world evidence… can be of importance to countries around the world as they advance their own vaccination campaigns one year after the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemic,” the two pharmaceutical companies said in a statement.

A Hadassah Medical Center medical staff member receives the second round of the COVID-19 vaccine, on January 11, 2021. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Israel’s inoculation campaign is the fastest in the world, with about 40 percent of the population already fully vaccinated against the virus.

Israel, which launched its vaccination campaign in December, has given the recommended two shots of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine to just under four million of its roughly nine million people.

More than five million have received the first dose of the vaccine and nearly four million the second dose.

“Incidence rates in the fully vaccinated population have massively dropped compared to the unvaccinated population, showing a marked decline in hospitalized cases due to COVID-19,” said Israel’s Health Ministry director general Chezy Levy.

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