Israel is currently leading the world in COVID vaccination, with real-world data to suggest that the Pfizer vaccine is working to stop 92% of severe COVID cases
Early on in 2020, Pfizer and Israel agreed a deal for continuous drug supply. This deal holds as long as data is transparently shared about how the vaccines are working.
Recently, Israel vaccinated roughly half of their 9 million population with atleast the first dose of the vaccine. The country is by far the fastest in the world at inoculation, leading to discussions in the UK about adopting similar practices – such as the proposed ‘green pass’ that would enable fully vaccinated individuals to visit bars and restaurants.
The vaccine works to reduce infectiousness too
Pfizer and Israeli health officials released new data that shows the vaccine is greatly reducing transmission, which is one of the most asked questions in the world right now. Will the push to vaccinate be able to stop COVID spreading? Or will it just protect the individual from a fatal outcome?
It appears that the answer to the first question is a strong yes.
The Israeli Health Ministry found that the full two doses of Pfizer reduces infection by 89.4% in asymptomatic cases, where there are no visible or tangible symptoms. In COVID cases that bring symptoms, Pfizer seems to work to provide a startling 93.7% level of protection.
The vaccine was also 92% effective at protecting people from severe COVID after two shots, with a strong 62% protection level after a single dose.
Three weeks after the first dose, people reported a 72% level of protection. Scientists expect this percentage to increase over time, as immunity builds in the body.
Do mutations impact how Pfizer works in Israel?
Even in the face of mutations, Pfizer appears to protect individuals from death and hospitalisation. In a separate study, researchers at The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston (UTMB) and Pfizer experimented with the vaccine on two mutations – the UK variant, and the South African variant. The UK variant was more easily neutralised, but the South African variant was less simple.
Pei-Yong Shi of UTMB further explained that this work is just beginning: “One limitation of the current study is that we have not included all the mutations from the spike gene of the new variants. Such experiments are ongoing.”
From the available data in the ongoing vaccination of Israel, only 1% of all positive test results appear to be due to the South African mutation so far.
Will Israel give vaccines to the Palestinians?
However, Israel is facing international criticism for their decision not to vaccinate Palestinians. Currently, only 5,000 doses have been allocated for healthcare professionals in Palestine. There have been almost 160,000 cases in the West Bank and Gaza, with 1,833 deaths, according to research from Johns Hopkins University.
Palestinians are not mentioned in the agreement between Pfizer and Israel.
A further 4.5 million people in the region do not have access to vaccines.
“Nothing can justify today’s reality in parts of the West Bank, where people on one side of the street are receiving vaccines, while those on the other do not, based on whether they’re Jewish or Palestinian,” explained Omar Shakir, Israel and Palestine director at Human Rights Watch.
What about the leftover vaccines?
Israel now has a surplus of vaccines, including the high-performing Moderna shots. The country is giving these to various countries, such as the Czech Republic and Honduras who are due to receive 5,000 each. Hungary and Guatemala are expected to receive a similar amount of vaccines from Israel.
Each one of these countries has indirectly accepted Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
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