Israel has now fully vaccinated 28 percent of its population against COVID-19 and administered the first dose to 42 percent of its nine million inhabitants, and its data is very promising. Clalit, the largest of Israel's four health-care providers, reported Sunday that the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine has resulted in a 94 percent drop in symptomatic COVID-19 infections among those who have gotten both doses and a 92 percent decline in severe illness.
Clalit compared 600,000 Israelis who have been fully vaccinated against an equal number who have not, pairing vaccinated people and non-vaccinated people with a similar age and health profile. The majority of people studied were age 16 to 59, but 170,000 of the 600,000 Israelis were 60 or older. "It is now unequivocal that Pfizer's vaccine against the coronavirus is incredibly effective in real life one week after the second dose, just as was found in the clinical study," Ran Balicer, Clalit's chief innovation officer and one of the study's authors, said in a statement Sunday. He said the vaccine is even more effective two weeks after the second shot.
Israel plans to inoculate most of its population by March, and in return for its early access to the Pfizer vaccine, the country agreed to share its data on vaccine safety, effectiveness, and side effects, The Wall Street Journal reports.
Overall, COVID-19 cases have dropped by 41 percent in Israel while hospitalizations have dropped by a third, public health experts Ezekiel Emanuel, Céline Gounder, Michael Osterholm, Luciana Borio, Atul Gawande, and Rick Bright write in a USA Today op-ed. "All seven COVID-19 vaccines that have completed large efficacy trials" appear "to be 100 percent effective for serious complications" and death, they added, so "our advice is simple: Take whatever vaccine is offered to you. Right now, all of the vaccines are the 'best.'"