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After Israel’s national campaign vaccinated more than three-fourths of adults 70 years or older against SARS-CoV-2, the need for mechanical ventilation among patients with COVID-19 in that age group declined dramatically.
The country’s vaccination campaign began in December 2020 by prioritizing adults 60 years or older, health care workers, and those whose chronic medical conditions increased their risk of severe COVID-19. By February, 84% of adults 70 years or older had received 2 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. To determine whether the vaccinations prevented severe disease, researchers calculated the ratio of patients aged 70 years or older to those aged 50 years or younger with COVID-19 who required mechanical ventilation. The younger group was chosen as a comparator because its 2-dose vaccination coverage was only about 10% as of February.
From October to December 2020, before the vaccination campaign began, a daily median of 84 patients aged 70 years or older required mechanical ventilation compared with 15 patients aged 50 years or younger—a ratio of about 6 to 1. By February, that ratio fell by two-thirds to about 2 to 1. The authors noted that their analysis, along with preliminary evidence posted on a preprint server, provide real-world evidence that the vaccines effectively protect against severe disease.
“The findings from this study provide preliminary but important evidence of the effectiveness of vaccines in preventing severe cases of COVID-19 at the national level in Israel,” the authors wrote. “Receipt of COVID-19 vaccines by eligible persons can help limit spread of disease and potentially reduce the occurrence of severe disease.”
Kuehn BM. Israel’s Real-life Evidence That Vaccine Can Prevent Severe COVID-19. JAMA. 2021;325(16):1603. doi:10.1001/jama.2021.5617
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