Israeli studies find Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine reduces transmission
JERUSALEM (Reuters) – Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine greatly reduces virus transmission, two Israeli studies have found, shedding light on one of the biggest questions of the global effort to quash the pandemic.
Data analysis in a study by the Israeli Health Ministry and Pfizer Inc found the Pfizer vaccine developed with Germany’s BioNTech reduces infection, including in asymptomatic cases, by 89.4% and in syptomatic cases by 93.7%.
Findings of the pre-published study, not yet peer-reviewed, but based on a national database that is one of the world’s most advanced, were first reported by the Israeli news site Ynet late on Thursday and were obtained by Reuters on Friday.
Pfizer declined to comment and the Israeli Health Ministry did not respond to a request for comment.
A separate study by Israel’s Sheba Medical Center published on Friday in The Lancet medical journal found that among 7,214 hospital staff who received their first dose in January, there was an 85% reduction in symptomatic COVID-19 within 15 to 28 days with an overall reduction of infections, including asymptomatic cases detected by testing, of 75%.
More research is needed to draw a definitive conclusion, but the studies are among the first to suggest a vaccine may stop the spread of the novel coronavirus and not just prevent people getting ill.
Michal Linial, a professor of molecular biology and bioinformatics at Jerusalem’s Hebrew University, said the findings were a big step towards answering one of the most important questions in combating the pandemic.