JERUSALEM (Reuters) – The risk of illness from COVID-19 decreased by 95.8% among people who received both injections of the Pfizer vaccine, Israel’s Health Ministry said on Saturday.
The vaccine was also 98% effective in preventing fever or respiratory problems and 98.9% effective in preventing hospitalizations and death, the ministry said.
The findings were based on data collected nationwide as of February 13 from Israelis who had received their second injection at least two weeks earlier. According to the Health Ministry website, about 1.7 million people had received a second injection as of January 30, making them eligible to be included.
Israel’s ambitious vaccination campaign has made it the largest real-world study of Pfizer’s vaccine and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Saturday that he expects 95% of Israelis aged 50 and over to be vaccinated in the next two weeks.
Previous reports from individual healthcare providers also showed positive results, prompting Israel to remove restrictions on the economy after weeks of lockdown. On Sunday, schools and many stores will be able to reopen.
The Ministry of Health has also launched a “Green Pass” application, linked to personal medical files, that people who have been fully vaccinated or considered immune after recovering from COVID-19 can display to stay in hotels or attend cultural events or sports.
Report by Ari Rabinovitch; Editing by David Holmes and Giles Elgood