The United States continues its monumental vaccination effort to deliver doses of COVID-19 vaccines into the arms of millions of Americans. As this process trudges along, there are many voicing concern and doubt over the effectiveness and safety of the vaccines. While experts' concerns about the design of Pfizer's and Moderna's Phase 3 trials are well-founded, the doubts over the vaccines' effectiveness and safety spread throughout social media are not.
Israel, who leads the entire world in vaccination rate, has vaccinated over 30% of its population. The fast rollout of vaccines has allowed Israel's Ministry of Health and Maccabi Healthcare Services, one of Israel's HMOs, to study the infection rate of COVID-19 and evaluate the effectiveness of the Pfizer vaccine.
The study involves over 700,000 people who have received both doses of the Pfizer vaccine. Out of these 715,425 people, 317 contracted COVID-19 a week after receiving the second dose. In comparison, the control group of unvaccinated people had 6,437 people contract COVID-19 in the same time period.
While it is concerning that there are people who still get infected with COVID-19 after receiving both doses, it is very important to note that the severity of the disease is greatly reduced for the vaccinated population. Only 16 of the 317 cases required hospitalization, about 5%. The majority of the vaccinated population are over the age of 60, which makes these findings even more surprising. In comparison, the United States estimates approximately 20% hospitalization rate since the beginning of the pandemic. The low number of hospitalizations will greatly reduce the strain on healthcare systems and allow patients suffering from other illnesses to receive the care they need.
As the vaccines are provided to more people, we will learn more about its protectiveness and safety. The data released by Israel this week is highly encouraging and that we are moving forwards to solving this pandemic. Let's do our part and get vaccinated when our turn comes up (except for those advised not to get the vaccine due to risk of severe side effect) and continue to follow best practices for prevention:
Stay home whenever possible
Wear a face covering that covers the nose and mouth whenever you're outside your home
Maintain physical distance of 6ft or greater from people outside your household whenever possible
Wash your hands with soap for at least 20 seconds or use a hand sanitizer with over 60% alcohol frequently