Israel fears that the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine may no longer be so effective against moderate forms of the disease.
© Come SITTLER / POOL / AFP
A teenage girl waits to receive a dose of Pfizer BioNTech vaccine at a vaccination center in Paris on June 15.
The debate will not call this fact into question: yes, it is always useful to be vaccinated against Covid-19. But in the case of Pfizer-BioNTech, one of the most widely distributed serums in the world, especially in Europe and France, will this be enough to avoid too large a wave due to the Delta variant?
In Israel, where more than half of the population is fully vaccinated with Pfizer / BioNTech, a rebound in Covid-19 contaminations raises fears of lower vaccine efficacy in “moderate cases” of the Delta variant. Those who do not necessarily require hospitalization. On Monday, the Ministry of Health said it observed a drop in the effectiveness of the vaccine, estimated at 64%. This drop was observed from June 6 with the spread of the Delta variant in Israel, the statement said without giving further details on the data used.
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Ran Balicer, head of the national expert committee, however, called for caution, saying it was “too early to accurately assess” this effectiveness. On Monday, the new Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett asked the Ministry of Health to carry out two medical studies, “which will provide essential information for decision-making on vaccines,” the Prime Minister’s office said.
A recent Scottish study published in the journal The Lancet estimated that the Pfizer vaccine (with two doses) provided 79% protection against contamination with the Delta variant.
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Mahmoud Zureik, professor of epidemiology and public health at the University of Versailles-Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines, also remains cautious. The more the epidemic progresses in a country, the more the number of immunized “natural” increases, explains the specialist on Twitter. What impact the comparison studies between vaccinated and non-vaccinated groups.
Very useful against severe cases
Moreover, more reassuringly, “the effectiveness of the vaccine in preventing severe cases of the coronavirus is 93%,” the Israeli ministry continued, against more than 94% in a previous study conducted in May.
To date, more than 5 of the 9.3 million Israelis (55% of the population) have received two doses, mostly from the American laboratory Pfizer, promoting a drop in the number of cases and the lifting of restrictions.
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As of June 21, however, Israel has recorded more than 100 new cases per day, after having recorded only a handful daily for weeks. On Sunday, 343 new infected people were identified. According to official figures, about half of new cases are among children and the other half in adults, most of whom have been vaccinated.
Fortunately, only 35 people are currently suffering from a severe form, according to the latest official figures. But, according to expert Ran Balicer, this number has increased in recent days by five every 48 hours, against one previously.
Naftali Bennett therefore warned on Sunday that the Hebrew state could reinstate restrictions after restoring the obligation to wear a mask in closed public places and businesses at the end of June and postponing the opening of the country to vaccinated tourists to August 1.