srael has announced that less than 0.04 per cent of patients who received two doses of the Pfizer vaccine have developed Covid, as it released its first official results on the world's fastest inoculations drive.
According to the Israeli health ministry, only 317 of 715,425 patients caught coronavirus after they were fully vaccinated against the disease.
The data is the strongest indication so far that the Pfizer vaccine offers substantial protection against Covid once both jabs have been administered. Some previous surveys have found similar results but relied on smaller sample sizes.
A separate study by Maccabi, an Israeli healthcare provider, also found that the Pfizer vaccines were at least 92 per cent effective, after comparing samples of vaccinated and unvaccinated citizens.
“This is very, very good news,” Anat Ekka Zohar, Maccabi’s lead vaccines analyst, told the Times of Israel on Thursday. “It is the first study in the world that looks at such a large number of fully vaccinated patients.”
“It’s a very high level of efficiency and we are seeing a very low percentage of coronavirus among the patients who have taken both shots,” she added.
Israel, the world’s fastest vaccinator against Covid, has already given the first of two jabs to nearly a third of its population.
Patients with underlying health conditions and the over-35s are taking priority, but this week 16 to 18-year-olds have also been included so they can sit important winter exams.
The Jewish state’s success has been partially attributed to a deal struck with Pfizer which secured millions of vaccines in return for regular updates on the effectiveness of the jabs.
Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, has warned that the emergence of vaccine-resistant strains of coronavirus is inevitable and that the world will need to adapt quickly.
"It’s just a matter of time until we hit a strain that the current vaccines are not susceptible to,” he said in a speech at the World Economic Forum.
Israel is currently in its third nationwide lockdown and this week sealed off Ben Gurion airport to all citizens and foreigners, as it grapples with a surge in new cases linked to the UK strain of coronavirus.
According to Channel 13, an Israeli broadcaster, a travel corridor between Israel and the United Arab Emirates may also have played a role in the large number of new infections since December.