Photo Credit: Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90

First the good news:

A study that was published on Wednesday in the New England Journal of Medicine (BNT162b2 mRNA Covid-19 Vaccine in a Nationwide Mass Vaccination Setting) and included 600,000 Israelis who were vaccinated from December 20, 2020, to February 1, 2021, and who were matched to 600,000 unvaccinated Israelis according to demographic and clinical characteristics, estimates high effectiveness of the BNT162b2 (Pfizer) vaccine for preventing symptomatic Covid-19 in a noncontrolled setting, similar to the vaccine efficacy reported in Pfizer’s randomized trial.

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According to the study results, about two weeks after the first vaccine dose, there was efficiency of 57% in preventing disease and a 62% reduction in serious illness. After 21-27 days, a 66% reduction in morbidity was observed, a reduction of 80% of serious illnesses, and 84% of mortality.

After full vaccination, one week after the second dose of the vaccine, the incidence of Corona morbidity was decreased by 94% and the rate of severe illness by 92%.

These are exciting results, which are based on testing 1.2 million people and should leave no room for speculation as to whether or not the Pfizer vaccine (and by extension the Moderna vaccine as well, which is based on the same technology) is effective against COVID-19. It is. Indeed, it appears from the study that the vast majority of Israelis who fell victim to the virus since the vaccine had become available were unvaccinated.

But while Israel is spearheading the global effort to vaccinate against Corona, the country is unable to defeat the virus and the overall rate of infections remains high. The trend of an increase in the coefficient of infection continues: according to health ministry data, the coefficient of infection rose to 0.93 on Friday, and the rate of increase continues to be high. Last Sunday, the figure was 0.79 and has taken great leaps in five days to 0.93. It means the decrease in morbidity reached over the last lockdown is being reversed and could cross over the hard-earned coefficient of 1.0.

According to Israel’s health ministry, 3,782 new positive tests were registered on Thursday, out of 70,039 test results (5.4%). As of Friday morning, there are 738 Corona patients in serious condition, of whom 238 are on respirators. So far, 5,694 died since the outbreak of the pandemic.

On the positive side: 4,649,709 have received the first dose of the vaccine, and 3,274,648 the second.

The data also show that as of today, 48 pregnant women who have recently given birth are hospitalized with the Corona. Six of them are in critical condition, two are connected to an Extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) device.

Also, 38 children under the age of 18 are hospitalized, four of them on respirators and in critical condition.

The health ministry has reported seven cases of the California variant of the virus. There are also 444 carriers of the South African variant.

Heartbreaking anecdotal reports of the pandemic persist in Israel.

A 23-year-old Corona patient with no pre-existing conditions suddenly collapsed at his home in Nazareth and was pronounced dead at the hospital, the English Hospital in Nazareth reported Thursday evening.

“The patient did not suffer from any background illness and was young,” said the hospital’s director, Professor Fahad Hakim, adding, “This is another painful reminder that the coronavirus is also severely affecting young and healthy people.”

Earlier on Thursday, a 26-year-old Coruna patient from eastern Jerusalem, also without background illnesses, collapsed and died in the hospital Hadassah Hospital on Mount Scopus. The young man, Ramzi Abu Maila from the Ras al-Amud neighborhood, was admitted to the shock room at the emergency department after collapsing at his home and losing his pulse. After prolonged resuscitation efforts the medical staff was forced to determine his death. Only then did it become apparent that he was infected with the Corona.

Abu Maila’s family refused an autopsy, saying “he was as healthy as an ox and did not even know he was infected with the Corona.”

It is feared that his death was caused by unknown complications of the virus.

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David writes news at JewishPress.com.