Israel rolls out vaccine with promising results

Jerusalem, Feb 1 (efe-epa).- With more than 30 percent of its population vaccinated in just a month and a half, Israel — which has the highest ratio of Covid-19 vaccinations per capita — is the world’s testing ground for how effective coronavirus vaccines are, although experts are also urging caution because of the unprecedented speed of the rollout, warning that the results of Israel’s inoculation campaign are too premature to be considered conclusive.

“There are no clear conclusions and we have to wait for more data analysis,” Nachman Ash, Israel’s national coronavirus response coordinator, told Efe.

Only 317 out of 715,425 Israelis (0.04 percent) contracted coronavirus a week after receiving the second dose of the vaccine. Just 16 people out of those 317 needed to be hospitalized.

These are the first figures released by the health ministry after administering the first doses of the Pfizer vaccine to more than 3 million people, while nearly 2 million have already received the second dose.

Maccabi, one of the country’s main health service providers, said that out of the 248,000 people who had received the second dose, only 66 contracted the virus after one week, with none  showing severe symptoms or requiring hospital treatment.

Based on those figures and comparisons with similar groups who have yet to be inoculated, Maccabi reported that people who have not been vaccinated were 11 times more likely to get infected.

The effectiveness of the vaccine is around 92 percent, according to preliminary results, although Israel has yet to fully complete the second round of inoculations. Pfizer had claimed 95 percent efficacy 28 days after the second dose had been administered.

“The figures are very promising”, said Arnon Shahar, in charge of Maccabi’s coronavirus response.

Despite the optimism, some scientists have urged patience until definitive results are available.

But all of the experts that Efe consulted agree on two issues: the adverse effects of the Pfizer vaccine are insignificant and the information currently available is insufficient to start drawing conclusions on whether the vaccine can limit the transmissibility of the virus. EFE-EPA

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