Pfizer studies Israel’s coronavirus vaccination campaign

Israel’s swift vaccination effort is providing important information about the COVID-19 vaccine from the pharmaceutical company Pfizer.

Reporters from the Reuters news agency spoke with leading scientists in Israel and elsewhere, Israeli health officials, heads of hospitals and two of the country’s largest healthcare providers. The goal was to find the latest information on the country’s especially rapid vaccination campaign.

Approximately 3.5 million Israelis have been fully or partially vaccinated. That’s more than half of the people who are in groups that are supposed to get vaccinated first. These groups are showing a sharp drop in infections.

Graph showing a significant decrease in infections and hospitalizations among people aged 60 and over

Eran Segal is a data scientist at the Weizmann Institute of Sciences in Rehovot, Israel. He said there was a 53 percent reduction in new cases in the first fully vaccinated group. In addition, there were 39 percent fewer hospitalizations and a 31 percent drop in serious illnesses from mid-January to February 6, Segal said.

More information will be released in two weeks as teams study the vaccine’s effectiveness in younger groups of Israelis and people with certain conditions.

“We need to have enough variety people in that subgroup and enough follow-up time for you to make the right decision conclusions, and we’re getting to that point, ”Ran Balicer said. He is an official at the Israeli health care provider Clalit.

Pfizer is watching the Israeli effort every week to understand more about the vaccine and how it is working.

Israel’s campaign provides Pfizer and its partner, BioNTech of Germany, an unusual opportunity. The small country has health care for all its citizens and the ability to collect and study data. Israel has also quickly provided the vaccine to its citizens.

Israel still faces difficulties in its effort to combat the virus. The third national of the country emergency shutdown it has not slowed the spread of COVID-19. A quick spread variant of the virus that was first found in Britain is now spreading in Israel. So far, the Pfizer / BioNTech injection appears to be effective against him.

“So far we have identified the same 90 to 95 percent effectiveness against the British tensionHezi Levi said. He is director general of the Israeli Ministry of Health.

The Pfizer vaccine requires two doses or injections to be effective. For this reason, Levi said it is too early to know the levels of protection because many people only received the second dose in the last week. He added that it is still too early to know if the vaccine is effective against another variant of the fast-spreading virus that began in South Africa.

Technicians work at the Health Maintenance Organization (HMO) Maccabi coronavirus disease (COVID-19) public laboratory, performing various and extensive tests, in Rehovot, Israel, on February 9, 2021. ( REUTERS / Ammar Awad)

Technicians work at the Health Maintenance Organization (HMO) Maccabi coronavirus disease (COVID-19) public laboratory, performing various and extensive tests, in Rehovot, Israel, on February 9, 2021. ( REUTERS / Ammar Awad)

Good results so far

Israel began its vaccination program on December 19. Paid a high price for supplies of the Pfizer / BioNTech vaccine.

Four days later, the rapidly spreading British variant was found in four people in Israel.

After that, Israel decided to start giving vaccines to people over 60 years old. Over time, he has opened the program to the rest of the population.

Information collected by Israeli healthcare provider Maccabi shows that only six out of 10,000 people became infected with COVID-19 within a week of receiving their second dose of Pfizer. At 22 days after complete vaccination, no infections were recorded.

Pfizer says that the effectiveness of its vaccine begins one week after the second dose is administered.

An important question is whether vaccines can end the pandemic. Michal Linial is professor of molecular biology and bioinformatics at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. She said that data from the past suggests that viruses become endemic and seasonal.

She predicted that the coronavirus would become much less aggressive, possibly requiring an additional injection in three years.

She added: “The virus is going nowhere.”

I am Mario Ritter Jr.

Maayan Lubell and Ari Rabinovitch reported this story for Reuters. Mario Ritter Jr. adapted it for VOA Learning English. Ashley Thompson was the editor.


Words in this story

variety -North. a number or collection of different things or people

conclusion -North. a final opinion or judgment

tension -North. a group of closely related living things

dose -North. the amount of medicine or vaccine needed to cure or help a condition

contagious –Adj. capable of being transmitted from one person or animal to another

endemic -North. common to a place

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