Research in Israel finds Pfizer vaccine effective

Sheba Medical Center's Prof. Gili Regev found encouraging results in the 300 people examined that have had their first Covid-19 vaccine jab.

New research in Israel has provided real time insights into the efficacy of the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine on those who have already been inoculated. Israel has already vaccinated more than 1.5 million people with the Pfizer vaccine including more than half of the population over 60. This is easily the largest proportion of the population and more in absolute numbers than most countries in the world. The UK for example has only vaccinated 1.3 million people, even though it began its vaccination drive two weeks before Israel. So all eyes are now focused on Israel to see if the vaccination can vanquish to virus.

Research at the Sheba Medical Center at Tel Hashomer near Tel Aviv led by Prof. Gili Regev, Director of Infectious Disease Epidemiology Unit, has found encouraging results in the 300 people it examined that have had their first vaccine jab.

When those vaccinated were examined after one week, they were found to have a disappointingly low number of antibodies. Only 1% of those vaccinated had enough antibodies - 1.1 units - to protect them against Covid-19. However, this was expected because Pfizer had already found that it takes more than week for the vaccine to be effective.

But after two weeks, the research found that 50% of those vaccinated already had enough antibodies to protect them against Covid-19. Most of the other 50% are expected to develop full immunity after their second jab, which will be administered three weeks after the first.

Prof. Regev said, "In the Pfizer trial too, after one week the level of antibodies was still not at a level considered sufficient for protection and in fact these levels were achieved overall only after four weeks after administering the first dose, in other words one week after the second dose, did the antibodies reach the minimum level for protection in the absolute majority of those vaccinated, 10 units compared with 1.1 units."

Regev, who has been vaccinated, checked herself. "In the first check one week after the vaccination, the level was 0.2 units and after two weeks it was 0.6. In other words we see a rise and that's what we want to see at this stage."

Interestingly even though the amount of antibodies presented after a week in those vaccinated is considered insufficient for protection, Israel has apparently seen a certain fall in Covid-19 morbidity among those only vaccinated between one and two weeks ago. Regev is cautious about this conclusion but says it was supported by Pfizer's findings that showed a fall in morbidity after the tenth day from the first dose, even though most of those vaccinated did not present the level of antibodies sufficient for protection att that stage. "It could be that protection appears after a lower level of antibodies than we thought, or that the immune mechanism is connected to the antibodies that have already started working."

In any event Regev warns those who have been vaccinated not to immediately let their guard down and start hugging people and going to parties. This is because it is not yet known if the Covid-19 vaccine protects against infecting others. "There are vaccines that do not protect against passing on the infection but only against developing the disease. I believe that this vaccine will also protect against infecting others but we still don't have any data about this."

Published by Globes, Israel business news - - on January 6, 2021

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