Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine is 94% effective in a huge real world study

The Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine proved 94 percent effective in a huge real world study published on Wednesday that involved 1.2 million people in Israel, confirming the power of mass immunization campaigns to end the coronavirus pandemic.

The Israeli study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, also demonstrated there is likely a strong protective benefit against infection, a crucial element in breaking onward transmission.

“This is the first peer-reviewed large scale evidence for the effectiveness of a vaccine in real world conditions,” Ben Reis, a researcher at Harvard Medical School and one of the paper’s authors, told AFP.

It involved almost 600,000 people who received the shots and an equal number who hadn’t but were closely matched to their vaccinated counterparts by age, sex, geographic, medical and other characteristics.

The efficacy against symptomatic Covid-19 was 94 percent seven or more days after the second dose — very close to the 95 percent achieved during Phase 3 clinical trials.

More than 217 million vaccine doses have been administered globally, according to an AFP tally as on Wednesday.

Hopes are high that the inoculations will allow the world to finally emerge from a pandemic that has killed more than 2.4 million, infected 112 million, and hammered the global economy.

But health experts have warned that unless the whole world has access to vaccines, the pandemic will not end.

The good news came as Ghana became the first country to receive shots under the global Covax scheme, paving the way for poorer nations to catch up with wealthier parts of the world.

The head of the World Health Organization applauded the first delivery of the Covax vaccines Wednesday. “At last!” WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in a tweet.

The WHO is one of several organizations behind Covax, which aims to deliver at least two billion doses globally by the end of the year.

The 600,000 doses delivered to Ghana in a ceremony broadcast live on television are from Oxford-AstraZeneca, and will be administered in several Ghanaian cities from Tuesday.

They are part of an initial tranche of deliveries bound for several low- and middle-income countries.

Covax, led by Gavi the Vaccine Alliance, the WHO and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), is seeking to ensure vaccines are equitably distributed globally.