Mounting real-world evidence from Israel suggests that Pfizer and BioNTech’s vaccine BNT162b2 can “dramatically” cut incidence rates of COVID-19 disease in fully vaccinated individuals, according to a joint statement issued Thursday by the companies and the Israeli Ministry of Health. Ugur Sahin, chief executive at BioNTech, said the latest findings indicate that BNT162b2 is “exceptionally effective” against SARS-CoV-2, both at “preventing COVID-19 cases, as well as profoundly reducing the rate of COVID-19 related severe diseases, hospitalizations and deaths.”
Israel’s health ministry previously found that BNT162b2 appeared to reduce all coronavirus infections, including asymptomatic infections, by 89.4% and symptomatic infections by 93.7%, based on data collected between January 17 and February 6. The new analysis was derived from health ministry surveillance data collected between January 17 and March 6, when more than 80% of tested specimens were from the highly transmissible B.1.1.7 variant of the coronavirus.
Asymptomatic cases cut by 94%
Results showed that BNT162b2 was 94% effective at preventing asymptomatic SARS-CoV-2 infections two weeks after the second dose. In addition, vaccine effectiveness was at least 97% against symptomatic COVID-19 cases, hospitalisations, severe/critical hospitalisations and deaths. These estimates align with the 95% vaccine efficacy rate seen in the final analysis of the pivotal trial for BNT162b2, the companies said.
Meanwhile, Pfizer and BioNTech said unvaccinated individuals were 44 times more likely to develop symptomatic COVID-19, and 29 times more likely to die from COVID-19. They noted that as the number of infections caused by the B.1.351 variant were limited during this period, the latest analysis was not able to evaluate vaccine effectiveness against this particular strain. Detailed results from the collaboration between Pfizer and Israel’s Ministry of Health, which was entered into in January, will be submitted to a peer-reviewed journal.
Builds on other Israeli, UK findings
The new data build on other recent real-world findings from Israel, including a study among healthcare workers showing that a single dose of BNT162b2 was 75% effective at preventing symptomatic and asymptomatic cases. Similarly, a preprint study last month based on a screening programme involving thousands of healthcare workers in the UK suggested the mRNA vaccine could reduce asymptomatic SARS-CoV-2 infections by about 75% after a single dose.
Meanwhile, Israel recently indicated plans to start administering a single dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine to previously infected individuals who recovered from COVID-19 up to three months before.