The pharmaceutical companies Pfizer and BioNTech announced on Thursday morning that real-world evidence from the Israel Ministry of Health show that there have been "dramatically" fewer Covid-19 cases and deaths among people in Israel who have been fully vaccinated with the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine compared with those who have been not vaccinated.
The latest analysis from the Israel Ministry of Health is based on data collected between Jan. 17 and March 6, according to the announcement. During that time, the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine was the only Covid-19 vaccine available in the country and the coronavirus variant B.1.1.7, which was first identified in the United Kingdom, was dominant.
According to Pfizer and BioNTech's announcement, the latest analysis from the Israel Ministry of Health shows that two weeks after the second dose, vaccine effectiveness was at least 97% in preventing symptomatic disease, hospitalizations and death. The analysis also found that the vaccine effectiveness was 94% in preventing asymptomatic Covid-19, where infections show no symptoms
"We are extremely encouraged that the real-world effectiveness data coming from Israel are confirming the high efficacy demonstrated in our Phase 3 clinical trial and showing the significant impact of the vaccine in preventing severe disease and deaths due to COVID-19," Luis Jodar, senior vice president and chief medical officer at Pfizer Vaccines, said in the announcement.
"The findings which suggest that the vaccine may also provide protection against asymptomatic SARS-CoV-2 infections are particularly meaningful as we look to disrupt the spread of the virus around the globe," Jodar said.
SARS-CoV-2 is the name of the virus that causes Covid-19.
The announcement comes about two weeks after a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine finding that the risk of symptomatic Covid-19 – meaning people who were infected with the coronavirus and felt sick – decreased by 94% among those who received two doses of the vaccine. Even before the second dose, the vaccine's effectiveness approached 60%.
"This clearly demonstrates the power of the COVID-19 vaccine to fight this virus and encourages us to continue even more intensively with our vaccination campaign. We aim to achieve even higher uptake in people of all ages, which gives us hope of regaining normal economic and social function in the not so distant future," Yeheskel Levy, Israel Ministry of Health director, said in the announcement.
"When we started our development last year in January, our aim was to make a difference for people worldwide and to help end this pandemic," Dr. Ugur Sahin, co-founder and CEO of BioNTech, said in the announcement. "One year after the declaration of a pandemic by the WHO, we now see that we are on the right track to accomplish our goals."
Albert Bourla, CEO of Pfizer, said data from Israel that shows the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine prevents asymptomatic infection and death is a message of hope one year on from the declaration of a pandemic.
“It is a great opportunity, I think, that in this day of the first anniversary of the declaration of a pandemic, we do have a message of hope,” Bourla told CNBC’s Meg Tirrell on Squawk Box.
Bourla explained that the data comes from a country where more than 55% of the total population has been vaccinated.
Efficacy so far in Israel is at 97%, saying “all three measures, mild disease, hospitalizations and deaths are north of 97% in real world efficacy with millions of people vaccinated.”
Perhaps most important of all, he said, it appeared to be 94% effective against asymptomatic transmission.
Bourla said that this is important for society, “because the asymptomatic carriers, the asymptomatic patients are the ones that they are spreading the disease mainly.”
“This is the first time that we are coming with a confirmation of a real world evidence study of that magnitude,” he said.