But in a blow to Britain’s strategy to leave 12 weeks between doses, the new study warns the first jab isn’t ‘very effective’ in reducing cases.
Nearly 40 percent of the population has now received at least one jab and as Israel leads the world in the vaccine stakes, attention is being turned to its results.
Since it began administering the second dose on January 10, there has been a 30 per cent drop in hospitalisations in over-60s and a 20 per cent decline in those falling seriously ill with Covid.
NEW POSITIVE CASES (rolling weekly figure): The second dose was doled out from January 10
NEW CASES IN HOSPITAL (rolling weekly figure): Over 60s were the first group inoculated and have seen a 35 per cent drop in cases, 30 per cent decline in hospitalisations and a 20 per cent fall in those falling seriously ill in the two weeks to February 1
Joseph Zalman Kleinman, 92, a holocaust survivor, receives his second dose of the Pfizer vaccine for COVID-19, administered by Rachel Atias of United Hatzalah paramedic service at the Clalit Health Services vaccination center at a sports arena in Jerusalem, Thursday, January 21
Another study showed that the jab was between 66 to 85 per cent effective at preventing infection and 87 to 96 per cent effective in stopping severe disease.
Those figures suggest the vaccine is not quite as effective as Pfizer’s own data says, but they are nevertheless very strong results.
The study’s author Professor Dvir Aran told
‘While this estimate is lower than the efficacy of the [Pfizer trial] it is still substantive and provides reassurance for the vaccine efficacy.’
But the study also found that one jab is not ‘very effective’ against Covid.
Britain decided to extend the interval between doses from the three weeks recommended by Pfizer to 12 weeks because of the unpredictability of supplies.
‘We see that immediately after the second dose the effectiveness jumps,’ Prof. Aran said.
However, he noted that this could be because it takes time for the first dose to work – believed to be around two weeks.
‘We will have to wait and see numbers from the UK,’ he added.
A second study by the Weizmann Institute showed a dramatic drop off in cases among the over-60s and less hospitalisations after the second dose was rolled out.
Over 60s were the first group inoculated and have seen a 35 per cent drop in cases, 30 per cent decline in hospitalisations and a 20 per cent fall in those getting seriously ill in the two weeks to February 1.
Announcing the findings on Monday, lead author Professor Eran Segal, a computer scientist, said: ‘We say with caution, the magic has started.’
He said they had expected results to show sooner in the data but that the impact of the jab may have been dented by the Kent mutant variant.
‘The UK variant is also the dominant one here now and if the reports are correct, this does not only spread faster, but it also causes more severe disease. This may have been another factor that off-set the [early] impact of the vaccine,’ Prof Segal added.
A young man receiving a vaccine in Jerusalem on Thursday as Israel leads the world in the vaccine stakes and has started inoculating the younger age groups
A nurse prepares a jab at a sports arena in Jerusalem
Israel announced yesterday that it will ease lockdown measures but keep its international airport closed until February 20 as cases fall.
‘The government has accepted a proposal from the prime minister and the health minister to ease lockdown measures from 7 am on Sunday,’ their offices said in a joint statement.
Israel has been registering a daily average of 6,500 new Covid-19 cases, down from around 8,000 in mid-January, official figures show.
A strict nationwide lockdown in force since December 27 has been extended four times to combat the infection rate, but January was the deadliest month with more than 1,000 Covid fatalities.
Israel has registered a total of more than 675,000 cases of Covid-19, including over 5,000 deaths.
Under the easing, Israelis will no longer be restricted to within 500 yards of their homes, and services such as hair and beauty salons will be allowed to operate, and nature reserves and national parks reopened.
Hotels remain shuttered and restaurants will be allowed to cater only for takeaways.
Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion airport, where international flights have been suspended since January 24, will remain closed until February 20, the government said.
Land borders are to remain closed.
Since December, more than 3.3 million out of Israel’s nine-million population have received a first jab of coronavirus vaccines.
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