Israeli Study: COVID Booster Vaccines 92% Effective In Preventing Serious Diseases

A large-scale Israeli study published on Friday showed that a third booster injection was 92% effective in preventing serious illness compared to those who received just two doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine.

The study conducted by Israel’s largest HMO Clalit Health Services, with funding from Harvard Medical School, was published in the Lancet Medical Journal based on a study of 728,321 people who received the third injection compared to a control group of a similar number who received only two injections at least five months earlier.

According to the report, the third dose of 93% was effective in preventing admission to the hospital, and the health service recorded 231 cases of hospitalization for the two-dose group, compared with 29 for those who received a booster shot.

Similarly, the rate was 92% for severe disease with 157 cases in the control group compared to 17 among those in the third injection category.

The study also found that the booster vaccine was 81% effective in preventing COVID-related deaths, with only seven reported among those who received the booster vaccine compared to 44 deaths for those who did not.

The study period was from July 30, 2020 to September 23, 202 and the participants had an average age of 51 years. Israel has used the Pfizer shot almost exclusively.

Both groups reported significantly fewer hospitalizations and deaths than those who were not vaccinated at all.

“The results demonstrate very convincingly that the third dose of the vaccine is extremely efficient,” said Ran Balicer, Clalit’s director of innovation.

Israel was the first country to widely adopt the booster and the end of Israel’s fourth wave has been attributed at least in part to its booster vaccination campaign, which began among those 65 and older in August and quickly spread to the rest. of the population. As of Friday, nearly 4 million Israelis, more than 42% of the total population, had received a third dose of the COVID vaccine. About 67% of the total population has received at least one vaccine.

Israelis over the age of 60 receive their third booster dose of the COVID-19 vaccine at a Clalit HMO clinic in Jerusalem, on August 8, 2021 (Olivier Fitoussi / Flash90).

Around 650,000 people who are eligible for vaccines have not received any of the injections, while around 1.1 million Israelis eligible for the booster have yet to receive it.

Since then, the US and other countries have followed suit, although some have approved the booster only for seniors or for people with pre-existing conditions.

It has been widely recognized that the booster injections helped Israel overcome a fourth wave of the virus.

The number of active COVID-19 cases in Israel has fallen below 10,000 for the first time in more than three months, according to figures released Thursday and Friday by the Health Ministry.

As the Delta outbreak continues to decline, active cases stand at 9,030 as of Friday night, after surpassing 90,000 in early September. The data also showed 656 new cases were confirmed Thursday, up from 5,000 to 6,000 a day nearly two months ago. On Thursday, active cases stood at 9,551.

Serious cases were down to 222 as of Friday night, including 127 on ventilators and 148 in critical condition. The death toll increased by 10 since Thursday morning to a total of 8,085.

Israel’s COVID-19 positivity rate has also declined steadily in recent weeks, reaching a low in recent days not seen since early July, according to statistics from the Health Ministry.

Only 651 people tested positive for the coronavirus on Thursday, out of about 77,000 tests, marking a positivity rate of 0.92 percent, slightly up from 0.81% on Wednesday. At the peak of Israel’s fourth wave in early September, the positivity rate exceeded 8%.

But ahead of the expected approval of vaccines for ages 5 to 11, health officials have been warning against dropping the ball on vaccines that could prevent future waves.

On Wednesday, the government voted to lift restrictions on outdoor gatherings, which had so far been limited to 5,000 people.

Starting Friday, outdoor meetings that require a Green Pass may have an unlimited number of attendees.

Overall, all indicators point to the end of Israel’s fourth wave of COVID, which began in July and at its peak saw more than 10,000 new cases reported each day.

Empty beds in the intensive care unit in the coronavirus ward of the Shaare Zedek hospital in Jerusalem on October 14, 2021 (Olivier Fitoussi / Flash90).

According to Israel’s traffic light program, which classifies localities as red, orange, yellow, or green based on the number of new cases, the positivity rate, and the case growth rate, only one city is currently listed in red: the settlement of Beit El on the outskirts of Jerusalem. . Eleven cities are classified as orange and the rest of the country is yellow or green.

A key advisory panel from the Ministry of Health will meet next week to begin the approval process to vaccinate children ages 5 to 11, after it was approved by the US Food and Drug Administration earlier this week. . Health Ministry Director General Nachman Ash said he expects a lot of doubt from parents, but that the ministry aims to make the approval process as transparent and clear as possible to alleviate any concerns.

Tomer Zarfati, 13, receives his second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine at a Clalit temporary medical care facility in Jerusalem on August 29, 2021 (Yonatan Sindel / Flash90).

Israel is still awaiting a shipment of Pfizer COVID doses for children, which are one-third of the dose administered to adults. Prime Minister Naftali Bennett reportedly ordered health officials to rush with the shipment, which is scheduled to arrive in mid-November.

Starting Monday, Israel will open its borders, in some way, allowing the entry of vaccinated tourists who have received a second or third dose, or have recovered in the last six months. Despite the restrictions, experts say that the reopening of Ben-Gurion will pose a risk of new variants and an increase in cases.

According to Channel 12 news, tourists caught violating the quarantine will be deported and will be barred from re-entry for three years. And those caught violating quarantine while COVID-positive will be deported and banned for five years.

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