Prof. Eran Segal, a computational biologist at the Weizmann Institute of Science, published new data yesterday on his Twitter account with the headline, "We say with caution, the magic has started." The comment relates to the fact that the effect of vaccination against Covid-19 has started to be seen in graphs comparing infection, hospitalization and severe illness among those aged 60 and above, who were the first to be vaccinated, with figures for the population as a whole. In all these factors, there has been steeper fall among those aged 60+ in comparison with those under 60. Until the start of the vaccination campaign, the figures for the 60+ age group were close to those of younger age groups or worse than them. Over the next few weeks we should see the numbers converging again, after people under 60 start to be vaccinated, and we may finally see the vaccinations contributing to an overall drop in morbidity.
The fact that the figures show divergence in the weekly numbers of confirmed Covid-19 cases between the two age groups indicates that the vaccines probably prevent infection of others as well as symptomatic illness in those vaccinated. However, it Is not possible to tell from the graphs how strong this effect is, and how similar these results are to those from the impressive clinical trial carried out by Pfizer, which showed 95% effectiveness in preventing symptoms and 100% effectiveness in preventing severe illness, but did not examine infection rates.
A similar conclusion arises from data from the Maccabi health fund, its KSM research institute, and Ki- The Israeli Institute for Applied Research in Computational Health, on the number of confirmed cases and hospitalizations among people who were vaccinated between December 20 and December 29. Ten days afterwards, the number of confirmed Covid-19 cases reached a peak, and then the numbers gradually declined to a level 55% lower, 21 days after those in the study received their first vaccination dose. In that period, the number of confirmed cases in the public at large rose by 14%. It should be pointed out that those who were vaccinated were probably also people who observed more strictly the rules of the lockdown that was in force in the same period, but they are also likely to have been careful even before the lockdown started.
The number of hospitalizations reached a peak fourteen days after the first dose, but it had declined by 80% after 28 days. The numbers, though, are small, and the results should therefore be treated with caution.
Published by Globes, Israel business news - en.globes.co.il - on February 2, 2021
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