Pfizer says COVID vaccine highly effective against Delta variant
By Maayan Lubell
JERUSALEM, June 24 (Reuters) - Pfizer-BioNTech> PFE.N <vaccine is highly effective against the Delta variant of COVID-19, a Pfizer official in Israel said Thursday.
Delta was first identified in India and is becoming the world's dominant version of the coronavirus, according to the World Health Organization.
“The data we have today, from research we do in the lab and including data from the places where the Indian variant Delta has replaced the British variant as a common variant, suggests that our vaccine is very effective is, about 90%, to prevent the coronavirus disease COVID-19, "Alon Rappaport, Pfizer's medical director in Israel, told local broadcaster Army Radio.
A Pfizer spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment when asked for more details.
Israel, with one of the most advanced vaccination campaigns in the world based largely on the Pfizer BioNTech shot, lacks enough data to provide insight into the vaccine's effectiveness against the Delta variant, said Sharon Alroy Price, director of the public Health at the Israeli Ministry of Health.
"We are collecting the data now. We are only now seeing the first cases of the Delta variant in Israel - around 200 of them - so we will know more soon," she told reporters on Wednesday.
An analysis by Public Health England (PHE), where the Delta variant is more common, found that both the Pfizer / BioNTech and AstraZeneca vaccines provided greater than 90% protection from hospitalization by the Delta variant.
In Israel, more than half of its 9.3 million residents have received both Pfizer shots, and a sharp decline in cases has resulted in most economic restrictions being lifted.
However, confirmed cases have risen in the past few days, and health officials have urged parents to vaccinate their 12-15 year olds, who became eligible this month.
Alroy-Price said approximately 65% of the Israeli population is protected against COVID-19 either by vaccination or by convalescence, a figure she believes is still far from guaranteeing “herd immunity”. (Writing by Maayan Lubell Editing by Mark Potter)
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