Studies on the real-life impact of the BNT162b2 vaccine, recently authorized for the prevention of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), are urgently needed. Here, we analysed the temporal dynamics of the number of new COVID-19 cases and hospitalization in Israel following a rapid vaccination campaign initiated on December 20th, 2020. We conducted a retrospective descriptive analysis of data originating from the Israeli Ministry of Health (MOH) from March 2020 to February 2021. In order to distill the possible effect of the vaccinations from other factors, including a third lockdown imposed in Israel on January 2021, we compared the time-dependent changes in number of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations between (1) individuals aged 60 years and older, eligible to receive the vaccine earlier, and younger age groups; (2) the latest lockdown (which was imposed in parallel to the vaccine rollout) versus the previous lockdown, imposed on September 2020; (3) early-vaccinated cities compared to late-vaccinated cities; and (4) early-vaccinated geographical statistical areas (GSAs) compared to late-vaccinated GSAs. In mid-January, the number of COVID-19 cases and hospitalization started to decline, with a larger and earlier decrease among older individuals, followed by younger age groups, by the order in which they were prioritized for vaccination. This fast and early decline in older individuals was more evident in early-vaccinated compared to late-vaccinated cities. Such a pattern was not observed in the previous lockdown. Our analysis demonstrates evidence for the real-life impact of a national vaccination campaign in Israel on the pandemic dynamics. We believe that our findings have major public health implications in the struggle against the COVID-19 pandemic, including the public ’s perception of the need for and benefit of nationwide vaccination campaigns. More studies aimed at assessing the effectiveness and impact of vaccination both on the individual and on the population level, with longer followup, are needed.
Author(s): Hagai Rossman, Smadar Shilo, Tomer Meir, Malka Gorfine, Uri Shalit, Eran Segal
Publication Date: 8 March 2021
Publication Site: MedRXiV