Background: Following the emergency use authorisation of the Pfizer-BioNTech mRNA COVID-19 vaccine BNT162b2 (international non-proprietary name tozinameran) in Israel, the Ministry of Health (MoH) launched a campaign to immunise the 6·5 million residents of Israel aged 16 years and older. We estimated the real-world effectiveness of two doses of BNT162b2 against a range of SARS-CoV-2 outcomes and to evaluate the nationwide public-health impact following the widespread introduction of the vaccine.
Methods: We used national surveillance data from the first 4 months of the nationwide vaccination campaign to ascertain incident cases of laboratory-confirmed SARS-CoV-2 infections and outcomes, as well as vaccine uptake in residents of Israel aged 16 years and older. Vaccine effectiveness against SARS-CoV-2 outcomes (asymptomatic infection, symptomatic infection, and COVID-19-related hospitalisation, severe or critical hospitalisation, and death) was calculated on the basis of incidence rates in fully vaccinated individuals (defined as those for whom 7 days had passed since receiving the second dose of vaccine) compared with rates in unvaccinated individuals (who had not received any doses of the vaccine), with use of a negative binomial regression model adjusted for age group (16-24, 25-34, 35-44, 45-54, 55-64, 65-74, 75-84, and ≥85 years), sex, and calendar week. The proportion of spike gene target failures on PCR test among a nationwide convenience-sample of SARS-CoV-2-positive specimens was used to estimate the prevelance of the B.1.1.7 variant.
Findings: During the analysis period (Jan 24 to April 3, 2021), there were 232 268 SARS-CoV-2 infections, 7694 COVID-19 hospitalisations, 4481 severe or critical COVID-19 hospitalisations, and 1113 COVID-19 deaths in people aged 16 years or older. By April 3, 2021, 4 714 932 (72·1%) of 6 538 911 people aged 16 years and older were fully vaccinated with two doses of BNT162b2. Adjusted estimates of vaccine effectiveness at 7 days or longer after the second dose were 95·3% (95% CI 94·9-95·7; incidence rate 91·5 per 100 000 person-days in unvaccinated vs 3·1 per 100 000 person-days in fully vaccinated individuals) against SARS-CoV-2 infection, 91·5% (90·7-92·2; 40·9 vs 1·8 per 100 000 person-days) against asymptomatic SARS-CoV-2 infection, 97·0% (96·7-97·2; 32·5 vs 0·8 per 100 000 person-days) against symptomatic COVID-19, 97·2% (96·8-97·5; 4·6 vs 0·3 per 100 000 person-days) against COVID-19-related hospitalisation, 97·5% (97·1-97·8; 2·7 vs 0·2 per 100 000 person-days) against severe or critical COVID-19-related hospitalisation, and 96·7% (96·0-97·3; 0·6 vs 0·1 per 100 000 person-days) against COVID-19-related death. In all age groups, as vaccine coverage increased, the incidence of SARS-CoV-2 outcomes declined. 8006 of 8472 samples tested showed a spike gene target failure, giving an estimated prevalence of the B.1.1.7 variant of 94·5% among SARS-CoV-2 infections.
Interpretation: Two doses of BNT162b2 are highly effective across all age groups (≥16 years, including older adults aged ≥85 years) in preventing symptomatic and asymptomatic SARS-CoV-2 infections and COVID-19-related hospitalisations, severe disease, and death, including those caused by the B.1.1.7 SARS-CoV-2 variant. There were marked and sustained declines in SARS-CoV-2 incidence corresponding to increasing vaccine coverage. These findings suggest that COVID-19 vaccination can help to control the pandemic.
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