Covid-19 vaccine provided a strong shield against hospitalization and more severe disease in cases caused by the contagious delta variant in Israel in recent weeks, even though it was just 39% effective in preventing infections, according to the country’s health ministry.
The vaccine, developed with BioNTech SE, provided 88% protection against hospitalization and 91% against severe illness for an unspecified number of people studied between June 20 and July 17, according to a report Thursday from the health ministry.
The data could be skewed because of different ways of testing vaccinated groups of people versus those who hadn’t been inoculated, according to the report.
“The heavily skewed exposure patterns in the recent outbreak in Israel, which are limited to specific population sectors and localities,” means the analysis may not be able to take all factors into account, said Ran Balicer, chairman of Israel’s national expert advisory team on Covid-19 response. “We are trying to complement this research approach with additional ones, taking additional personal characteristics into account. But this takes time and larger case numbers.”
Still, the data are likely to fuel debate over whether booster shots should be given to people who’ve already been vaccinated -- something Pfizer has said it plans to request in the U.S. Israeli authorities said earlier this month they’ll only give a third round of shots to people with weakened immune systems.