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544 COVID infections, almost all mild, in biggest data yet

It works: 0 deaths, only 4 severe cases among 523,000 fully vaccinated Israelis

HMO data a week after 2nd dose shows 93% effectiveness, ‘unequivocally’ proving vaccine’s success and leaving ‘no doubt’ it’s saved many Israeli lives, says Maccabi official

Nathan Jeffay is The Times of Israel's health and science correspondent

  • A French nun living in Israel receives a dose of COVID-19 coronavirus vaccine at the Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Centre for foreign nationals in Tel Aviv on February 9, 2021 during a campaign to vaccinate foreign workers and refugees against coronavirus. (JACK GUEZ / AFP)
    A French nun living in Israel receives a dose of COVID-19 coronavirus vaccine at the Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Centre for foreign nationals in Tel Aviv on February 9, 2021 during a campaign to vaccinate foreign workers and refugees against coronavirus. (JACK GUEZ / AFP)
  • A dose of the Pfizer-BioNtech Covid-19 vaccine is pictured at Clalit Health Services, in a gymnasium in the central Israeli city of Hod Hasharon, on February 4, 2021. (JACK GUEZ / AFP)
    A dose of the Pfizer-BioNtech Covid-19 vaccine is pictured at Clalit Health Services, in a gymnasium in the central Israeli city of Hod Hasharon, on February 4, 2021. (JACK GUEZ / AFP)
  • In this file photo taken on December 19, 2020 an Israeli medical worker fills an international certificate of vaccination for coronavirus at the Sheba Medical Center, the country's largest hospital, in Ramat Gan near the coastal city of Tel Aviv. (JACK GUEZ / AFP)
    In this file photo taken on December 19, 2020 an Israeli medical worker fills an international certificate of vaccination for coronavirus at the Sheba Medical Center, the country's largest hospital, in Ramat Gan near the coastal city of Tel Aviv. (JACK GUEZ / AFP)
  • A foreign resident living in Israel receives a dose of COVID-19 coronavirus vaccine at the Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Centre for foreign nationals in Tel Aviv on February 9, 2021 during a campaign to vaccinate foreign workers and refugees against coronavirus. (JACK GUEZ / AFP)
    A foreign resident living in Israel receives a dose of COVID-19 coronavirus vaccine at the Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Centre for foreign nationals in Tel Aviv on February 9, 2021 during a campaign to vaccinate foreign workers and refugees against coronavirus. (JACK GUEZ / AFP)
  • An Israeli receives a COVID-19 vaccine in Jerusalem, February 10, 2021. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
    An Israeli receives a COVID-19 vaccine in Jerusalem, February 10, 2021. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

An Israeli healthcare provider that has vaccinated half a million people with both doses of the Pfizer vaccine says that only 544 people — or 0.1% — have been subsequently diagnosed with the coronavirus, there have been four severe cases, and no people have died.

That means the effectiveness rate stands at 93 percent, Maccabi Healthcare Services announced on Thursday, after comparing its immunized members to a “diverse” control group of unvaccinated members.

Full protection against COVID-19 for people who have been vaccinated is believed to kick in a week after the second shot, so the Maccabi data covers all those of its members who are seven or more days after receiving that second dose.

Maccabi’s statistics are being closely monitored around the world, for giving the first major insight into how the vaccine performs outside of clinical trials. And they are being widely hailed for indicating that real-word effectiveness is close to the 95% efficacy cited after Pfizer’s clinical trials.

“This data unequivocally proves that the vaccine is very effective and we have no doubt that it has saved the lives of many Israelis,” said senior Maccabi official Dr. Miri Mizrahi Reuveni after the new data release.

She stressed that among those who have vaccinated and become infected, the vast majority have experienced the coronavirus lightly. Out of the 523,000 fully vaccinated people, 544 were infected with COVID-19, of whom 15 needed hospitalization: Eight are in mild condition, three in moderate condition, and four in severe condition.

Hospital workers in the coronavirus ward at Ziv Medical Center in the northern city of Safed on December 17, 2020. (David Cohen/Flash90)

Speaking as Israel grapples with a slowdown in the vaccination campaign, Mizrahi Reuveni urged people to take notice of the new statistics and book slots, warning that those who don’t are likely to get infected.

Dr. Miri Mizrahi Reuveni, Maccabi Healthcare Services (Courtesy)

“Anyone who has not been vaccinated so far,  please hurry up and make an appointment as soon as possible,” she said. “Protect yourself from a serious illness and, God forbid, death as well as the possibility that you will infect and endanger others.”

The percentage of infections reported by Maccabi Healthcare Services, 0.104%, reflects a larger proportion of people getting infected since its previous vaccination stats. But a rise is expected, as the statistic is cumulative, with infection numbers inevitably increasing as each day passes. This doesn’t impact the effectiveness rate, which is a measure of infection levels among vaccinated people and unvaccinated people compared over any chosen time-frame.

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