A person who is vaccinated has only a one in 1,000 chance of contracting COVID-19, according to new data released by Maccabi Health Services on Wednesday.
The data comes against the backdrop of new efforts by the Health Ministry and Magen David Adom to inoculate employees of large businesses and factories on the one hand. It also comes as a new report by the Coronavirus Knowledge and Information Center showed that nearly four out of five people diagnosed with coronavirus the day before were under the age of 40.
According to the Maccabi study, only 608 people have been infected with coronavirus out of around 602,000 who had been vaccinated by the health fund with their second dose for at least seven days.
Of those who did become infected, Maccabi showed, most people experienced mild symptoms. Only 21 people required hospitalization. And, of those who were hospitalized, only seven people were defined as in serious condition.
In contrast, some 20,621 people out of 528,000 members of a control group contracted the virus – 3.9%.
“At this stage, the vaccine is 95% effective in Israel,” Maccabi said in a statement. “The efficacy is consistent with the efficacy reported in the trial conducted by Pfizer.”
Dr. Anat Ekka Zohar, a senior member of the Maccabi research team, said that “the effectiveness of the vaccine in Israel remains stable and high… The data proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that this is the most effective way to defeat the pandemic.”
So far, Maccabi said it has vaccinated more than 1.1 million people with their first dose and another 721,964 people with their second dose.
More than 4.1 million people have received their first dose of the Pfizer vaccine in Israel, and another more than 2.7 million have received their second dose, as well, the Health Ministry showed on Wednesday evening.
In an effort to increase vaccination, the SodaStream factory in the Negev hosted Magen David Adom medical personnel on Tuesday night and Wednesday who were charged with vaccinating its employees.
Health Minister Yuli Edelstein and coronavirus commissioner Prof. Nachman Ash visited the factory during the operation on Wednesday, in which the company’s Chief Operations Officer Kfir Suissa revealed that in less than one day already more than 1,000 employees had gotten the jab.
He said he expected 80% of staff to be vaccinated within the next day.
“We are working to overcome the phenomenon of people not getting vaccinated because of fake news,” Edelstein said during his visit. “We were thinking about going to people at their places of work. SodaStream stepped up to help in the national vaccination effort and hundreds of people are getting vaccinated.”
Edelstein asked how it can be that “when our finger hurts, we go to the doctor, when there is a pandemic, we listen to people who have no idea about medicine.”
He called on the staff to recruit their spouses, family members and friends to help get even more people inoculated to help Israelis return to their pre-pandemic routines.
SUISSA SAID that to help combat fake news among his workers, he brought in Jewish and Muslim religious leaders and Arab- and Hebrew-speaking medical professionals to address his staff. He also gave anyone who agreed to vaccinate a NIS 300 gift certificate, a T-shirt and a certificate of appreciation.
Over the last few days, the Health Ministry has raised the idea of pushing forward legislation that would restrict the entry of non-vaccinated workers into businesses that work directly with the public.
During an interview with Army Radio, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu defended the move, saying that in the 1950s there was a directive in Israel that anyone who did not get vaccinated was subject to criminal charges. However, he said that “we should not reach this point” and that “democracy is life.”
The prime minister also addressed the country’s purchase of the Pfizer vaccines at what was reported to be top dollar.
According to Israel’s Channel 13, Israel agreed to pay $56 per person ($28 for each dose), as opposed to the $39 the US is paying. The European Union reportedly is paying even less.
But Netanyahu said, “From the beginning of the pandemic, I have been in personal contact with the vaccine companies.” He said that he told Pfizer’s CEO that he was ready for a contract for millions of vaccines in exchange for the company receiving the data it needed to prove the success of its vaccine.
“I did not argue about the price, because I knew it would skyrocket,” Netanyahu said.
But even while the vaccines are working, the Coronavirus Knowledge and Information Center revealed new data on Wednesday that showed 77.7% of those diagnosed on Tuesday – almost four out of five – were under the age of 40.
Only 5.5% of new cases were over the age of 60 – reiterating the effectiveness of the Pfizer vaccine.
Moreover, the center showed, more than 40% of new serious cases are also younger people.
On Tuesday night, a 30-year-old man who had been hospitalized at Shamir Medical Center died of COVID-19. He left behind a wife and two young children. He suffered from no preexisting medical conditions before contracting the virus.
Some 4,428 people were diagnosed with the virus on Tuesday, the Health Ministry reported, and another 2,710 between midnight and press time on Wednesday.
Some 948 people were in serious condition, including 305 who were intubated.
The death toll stood at 5,470.