Skip to main content

Advertisement

Advertisement

World

Israel sees drop in Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine protection against infections, still strong in severe illness

Israel reported on Monday (Jul 5) a decrease in the effectiveness of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine in preventing infections and symptomatic illness but said it remained highly effective in preventing serious illness.

Israel sees drop in Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine protection against infections, still strong in severe illness

A medical worker prepares to administer a vaccination against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) as Israel continues its national vaccination drive, during a third national COVID lockdown, in Ashdod, Israel, on Jan 4, 2021. (Photo: REUTERS/Amir Cohen)

JERUSALEM: Israel reported on Monday (Jul 5) a decrease in the effectiveness of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine in preventing infections and symptomatic illness but said it remained highly effective in preventing serious illness.

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

Vaccine effectiveness in preventing both infection and symptomatic disease fell to 64 per cent since Jun 6, the Health Ministry said. At the same time the vaccine was 93 per cent effective in preventing hospitalisations and serious illness from the coronavirus.

The ministry in its statement did not say what the previous level was or provide any further details. However ministry officials published a report in May that two doses of Pfizer's vaccine provided more than 95 per cent protection against infection, hospitalisation and severe illness.

A Pfizer spokesperson declined to comment on the data from Israel, but cited other research showing that antibodies elicited by the vaccine were still able to neutralise all tested variants, including Delta, albeit at reduced strength.

About 60 per cent of Israel's 9.3 million population have received at least one shot of Pfizer's vaccine in a campaign that saw daily cases drop from more than 10,000 in January to single digits last month.

READ: Israel negotiating Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine surplus with other countries, official says

This spurred Israel to drop nearly all social distancing as well as the requirement to wear masks, though the latter was partially reimposed in recent days. At the same time Delta, which has become a globally dominant variant of the coronavirus, began to spread.

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

Data scientist Eran Segal of Israel's Weizmann Institute of Science said the country was unlikely to experience the high levels of hospitalisations seen earlier in the year since there were much fewer critically ill.

He said it was fine to "continue with life back to normal and without restrictions" while stepping up measures like vaccination outreach and ensuring testing for Israelis returning home from abroad.

BOOKMARK THIS: Our comprehensive coverage of the COVID-19 pandemic and its developments

Download our app or subscribe to our Telegram channel for the latest updates on the coronavirus outbreak: https://cna.asia/telegram

Source: Reuters/ec

Advertisement

Also worth reading

Advertisement