The effectiveness of the Pfizer vaccine against Covid-19 has dropped to 39 percent in Israel, the country’s Ministry of Health said on Thursday.
The Pfizer vaccine is also only 41 per cent effective in preventing symptomatic Covid, the studies showed. Previously, the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine was well over 90 per cent effective against infection.
The new figure refers to the period between June 20 and July 17, the ministry said, adding that the ongoing decline was observed along with the spread of the Delta Covid-19 variant in Israel.
The latest effectiveness rate is significantly lower than that of 64 per cent measured between June 6 and July 3, and 94.3 per cent measured between May 2 and June 5.
However, the effectiveness of the vaccine in preventing severe coronavirus disease in Israel is currently estimated at 91.4 per cent, and in preventing Covid-19 hospitalization,at 88 percent.
Since the start of the vaccination campaign in Israel on Dec. 20, 2020, over 5.75 million people in Israel, or 61.6 per cent of the population, have received the first dose of the vaccine, while 5.28 million have received the second dose.
The Israeli statistics also appeared to paint a picture of protection that gets weaker as months pass after vaccination, due to fading immunity. People vaccinated in January were said to have just 16 per cent protection against infection now, while in those vaccinated in April, effectiveness was at 75 per cent, according to a report in the Times of Israel.
Doctors note that such figures may not only reflect time that has passed since vaccination, but also a bias according to which those who vaccinated early were often people with health conditions and who are more prone to infection, such as the elderly, the report said.
Reacting to the Israeli figures on Thursday, epidemiologist Nadav Davidovitch, a Ben-Gurion University professor and leader of Israel’s doctors’ union, told the newspaper, “What we see is that the vaccine is less effective in preventing transmission, but it’s easy to overlook that it’s still very effective in preventing hospitalisation and severe cases.”