Israel: Vaccine Efficacy Against Delta Variant Drops, Infections Rise

Israel, which led the world in the vaccination race, has reported that a drop in the effectiveness of the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine has been observed of late.

On Monday, Tel Aviv reported a decrease in the effectiveness of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine in preventing infections and symptomatic illness. However, the health authorities said the Pfizer vaccine was still 'highly effective' in preventing serious disease.

Vaccine effectiveness in preventing both infection and symptomatic disease fell to 64 per cent since Jun 6, the Health Ministry said. At the same time the vaccine was 93 per cent effective in preventing hospitalizations and serious illness from the coronavirus.

Report in May

According to a report published by the ministry in May, two doses of Pfizer's vaccine were able to give more than 95 percent protection against infection and hospitalization.

COVID-19 vaccine developed by Oxford University and AstraZeneca Wikimedia commons

Pfizer did not comment on the new data, Reuters reported. However, a spokesperson told the agency that other research shows vaccine was still able to neutralize all tested variants, including Delta.

In a separate report, the health ministry said the coronavirus vaccine was only 64 percent effective against symptomatic infection by the Delta variant.

Booster Dose

The ministry also gave the go-ahead for a a booster shot for immunocompromised patients while the cabinet was planning to meet to discuss new measures including some restrictions, for the public to prevent an outbreak.

pfizer-biontech vaccine
A lab study has suggested that the South African variant may reduce antibody protection from the Pfizer Inc/BioNTech vaccine by two-thirds. Pixabay

However, the ministry added that the jab's ability to prevent serious illness still remained high at 93 percent.

After a successful inoculation drive, Israel had dropped nearly all social distancing measures. However, the daily cases started increasing in recent days.

The daily tally reached 343 on Sunday while the number of seriously ill people rose to 35 from 21.

Vaccine Deal with South Korea

In other news, Israel also struck a deal with South Korea to exchange vaccines. Under the deal 700,000 doses of the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine will be immediately transferred to South Korea.

South Korea will return the same amount of vaccines to Israel at a future point in time. This deal would prevent the vaccine lots, which are nearing expiry, are not wasted. Earlier, Palestine had rejected an Israeli offer to transfer the vaccines to them.

Related topics : Coronavirus