The Pfizer vaccine has dropped to 64 percent effectiveness in preventing infection in Israel as the delta variant spread across the country, the Health Ministry said on Monday.
According to Israeli data published in March, two weeks after the vaccine was given, it had 99 percent effectiveness in preventing symptomatic COVID-19 and 91.2 percent in preventing infection.
The ministry added that the vaccine is 93 percent effective in preventing hospitalizations and severe symptoms.
The ministry refrained from recommending administering a third dose of the vaccine at this stage. The data was presented on Sunday by members of the Health Ministry’s epidemiology team. However, experts have expressed doubt regarding the analysis of infection rates in Israel in recent weeks, and the ministry’s epidemiology team has also questioned it.
Nevertheless, health sources believe that the immunization’s effectiveness against the delta variant is much lower than initially presumed.
Prof. Ran Balicer, the chief of the professional coronavirus cabinet, which advises the Israel’s coronavirus cabinet, added that it is very difficult to gauge vaccine efficacy when COVID tests are performed selectively.
“This is fundamentally different from the evaluation that came from the U.K.,” another expert stated.
The Health Ministry’s model was built on the assumption that the vaccine is 80 percent effective against the delta variant instead of 90 percent against the alpha variant hailing from Britain.
Until now, the main research findings, including those by British health authorities published in the medical journal Lancet, show that two weeks after the second dose is administered, the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine is 88 percent effective against the delta variant. That is only slightly less than the 93 percent for the alpha variant.
However, the delta variant is considered to be one and a half times more contagious than the alpha and twice as infectious as the original version of the virus.
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