Mar 01, 2021

Israel’s fast tracked vaccine rollout offers first real-world look at life after the vaccine

Colors of Israel

Despite the fact that millions of vaccine doses have been administered around the world, questions about its safety and efficacy are still being raised. However in Israel, with more than half the population now having received their vaccinations, we’re seeing the world’s first mass inoculation against COVID-19. 

So far, as Israeli researchers rush to publish findings as the vaccine rollout continues, it’s becoming increasingly apparent that the Pfizer vaccine has a far higher efficacy rate than initially expected. 

Vaccinated Israelis are finding that the vaccine is almost completely free of serious side effects, and so far has proved highly successful at preventing serious disease and death caused by coronavirus.  

These results have even led Israeli officials to open up the vaccination program to pregnant and breastfeeding women, while also showing the safety of the vaccine in those living with food allergies and autoimmune diseases. 

With the aim of vaccinating 80% of the country by the end of May 2021, Israel’s goal is to achieve herd immunity. The Israeli government has struck a deal with Pfizer to ensure a steady supply of vaccine doses in exchange for anonymised data that is kept on almost every Israeli.

This has allowed Pfizer and researchers to track the success of the vaccine as it has rolled out in the fastest vaccine program in the world. 

Already, more than 4.6 million people have received at least one dose of the vaccine in Israel, and more than 3.3 million people have received both shots. 

“Sometimes when you go from clinical trials to the real world, you get different results,” Hagai Levine, an epidemiologist at Hebrew University and chairman of the Israel Association of Public Health Physicians, told The Washington Post. 

“What these studies are showing us is the vaccine gives very good protection against disease and mortality. That is great news for the world.”

Early results showed promising results, in one test group of 428,000 who received both doses of the Pfizer vaccine, only 0.014% of people went on to contract the virus. Further, even after just one dose of the vaccine, the chances of contracting COVID-19 drops by 33% compared to an unvaccinated person, according to Professor Ran Balicer. 

The vaccine has also been shown so far to be increasingly successful in older people in the population. Over 90% of Israelis over 50 have been fully vaccinated, and according to The Washington Post, hospital administrators have said that they are confident that COVID-19 is no longer a risk to the country’s critical care systems. 

While Israel’s incredible push to vaccinate the population continues, there still remain some questions around the efficacy of the Pfizer vaccine against more aggressive variants of the virus that have been spreading around the world, some of which have not yet reached Israel. 

Questions also remain about whether vaccinated people remain contagious, and the infection rates between those people and people who opt to not receive the vaccine. 

As more and more data is being released, peer reviewers and medical journals can hardly keep up, leading some still suspicious of how effective the vaccine is in Israel, however, the eyes of the world have turned to the country as the world’s first real-life mass rollout. 

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