Israel sees drop in Pfizer Covid vaccine protection, still strong in severe illness

Israel sees drop in Pfizer Covid vaccine protection, still strong in severe illness

Israel on Monday reported a decrease in the effectiveness of the Pfizer / BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine in preventing infections and symptomatic illnesses, but said it remained very effective in preventing serious illness.

The decline coincided with the spread of the delta variant and the end of social distancing restrictions in Israel.

The vaccine’s effectiveness in preventing infections and symptomatic illnesses has fallen to 64% since June 6, the health ministry said. At the same time, the vaccine was 93% effective in preventing hospitalizations and serious illness from the coronavirus.

The ministry, in its statement, did not specify what the previous level was or provide other details. However, ministry officials released a report in May that found two doses of the Pfizer vaccine offered more than 95% protection against infections, hospitalizations and serious illness.

An elderly woman receives a reminder of her vaccination at an assisted living facility in Netanya,Ronen Zvulun / Reuters file

A Pfizer spokesperson declined to comment on Israel’s data, but cited other research showing that the antibodies elicited by the vaccine were still able to neutralize all variants tested, including delta, albeit at a reduced force.

About 60% of Israel’s 9.3 million people received at least one injection of Pfizer’s vaccine during a campaign that saw the number of daily cases rise from more than 10,000 in January to single digits. last month.

This prompted Israel to drop almost all social distancing as well as the requirement to wear masks, although the latter has been partially reimposed in recent days. At the same time, the delta, which has become a globally dominant variant of the coronavirus, has started to spread.

Since then, daily cases have gradually increased, reaching 343 on Sunday. The number of seriously ill people has increased from 21 to 35.

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Data scientist Eran Segal of Israel’s Weizmann Institute of Science said the country was unlikely to experience the high levels of hospitalizations seen earlier in the year because there were far fewer people seriously ill.

He said it was good to “continue a normal, unrestricted life” while stepping up measures such as vaccination awareness and ensuring testing for Israelis returning from abroad.