Israeli data suggests mass vaccines caused a drop in severe Covid cases, according to a CDC study

An Israeli health worker from Maccabi Healthcare Services prepares to administer a dose of the Pfizer-BioNtech vaccine on February 24, 2021 in Tel Aviv.

Jack Guez | AFP | fake images

Data from Israel, which has vaccinated the vast majority of its elderly population with the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine, suggests that mass vaccinations have kept people from getting seriously ill, according to a new study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Disease Prevention.

While clinical trials have found the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine to be 95% effective in preventing Covid-19, Israeli data offers an early glimpse of how effective the vaccine is in an uncontrolled real-world setting.

The study, which was published Friday in the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, found that among the portion of the Israeli population that has been vaccinated the most, the percentage of patients requiring ventilation dropped dramatically, suggesting a reduction of serious diseases.

“Taken together, these results suggest reduced rates of severe COVID-19 after vaccination,” wrote the researchers from Ben Gurion University of the Negev, Tel-Aviv University and Maccabi Healthcare Services.

Israel launched its national vaccination campaign in December prioritizing people aged 60 and over, healthcare workers and people with comorbid conditions. By February, the researchers said, 84% of the population age 70 and older had been fully immunized with the Pfizer-BioNTech two-shot vaccine. Only 10% of the population under the age of 50 had been vaccinated at the same time, the researchers said.

The researchers compared the number of Covid-19 patients aged 70 and over who required a mechanical ventilator with those under 50 who needed a ventilator. The researchers said they used the need for a ventilator, a medical instrument used to help patients breathe, to measure severe Covid-19.

Between October and February, the number of patients aged 70 and over who required a ventilator decreased. At the same time, the number of people under the age of 50, a generally unvaccinated population, who needed a ventilator increased, the study found. The country began administering vaccines to mostly older people on December 20, with a second round of injections three weeks later.

The researchers noted some limitations of the study. Israel implemented a strict national stay-at-home order on January 8, weeks after the vaccination campaign began, which could have led to a decrease in seriously ill patients who would have needed ventilators. The introduction of new variants of the coronavirus could also have affected the data, they said.

The researchers said their findings are preliminary, “important evidence for the effectiveness of vaccines in preventing serious cases of COVID-19 nationwide in Israel.”

“Receiving COVID-19 vaccines by eligible individuals can help limit the spread of the disease and potentially reduce the occurrence of serious illness,” they wrote.


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