Vaccines quickly prevent serious cases of COVID-19 among the most vulnerable members of society, said an Israeli healthcare provider.
The full effects of the Pfizer vaccine are expected to start only a month after the first shot, but data from Israel, where the world’s fastest vaccination is located, already show that there is a sharp decline in infections even before that time.
Attracting widespread international interest by sharing early data, Maccabi Healthcare Services announced earlier this month that it had seen a 60% reduction in coronavirus infections three weeks after the first shot.
Get the Daily of Israel daily by email and never miss our most popular stories Free registration
But it was not clear whether the benefits were felt equally by those who were prone to a mild infection and those who were likely to take COVID-1
Maccabi is now beginning to answer the question that hospitals and health ministers around the world are anxiously asking, amid fears of health service failures: How soon will COVID-19 wards begin to see the benefits of vaccination?
The decline in hospital admissions is rapid after vaccination, Maccabi suggested in its latest data, noting that hospitalizations began to fall sharply from Day 18 after people received their first shot. Galya Rahav, head of infectious diseases at Israel’s largest hospital, Sheba Medical Center, described the data as “very important”.
By day 23, which is 2 days after the second shot, there has been a 60% drop in hospitalizations among vaccinated people over the age of 60, Maccabi revealed after observing 50,777 patients. It compared their hospitalization rate at that time with their hospitalization rate shortly after receiving the vaccine, using 7-day moving averages.
“These are very important data,” Rahab, who has nothing to do with the study, told The Times of Israel. “This has an impact, because among the high rate of infection and the spread of variants, it is difficult to see from the overall figures how vaccination affects things.
“Giving an idea of hospitalizations only to those elderly people who have been vaccinated, these data are valuable.”
However, she warned that part of the decline could be due to the tendency of newly vaccinated people to adhere to blocking rules, leading to a drop in infection and hospitalization.
The new data also supports Maccabi’s earlier claim of a 60% drop in infection rates after three weeks, saying it had seen the same drop with a new sample of only the 60-year-old.
Maccabi’s chart gives a realistic picture of the infection in Israel, showing that by Day 13, those vaccinated over the age of 60 had similar levels of infection as the general population over the age of 60. Then a gap opened and by day 23 there were 18 daily infections among 50,777 in total, but only six among those vaccinated.