Thursday, February 25, 2021

Most important questions and answers about the effect of the vaccine


An unpublished manuscript is now circulating on the Biontech / Pfizer vaccine that suggests the following: The Biontech vaccine stops the transmission of the coronavirus. But the results are still difficult to interpret. The most important answers:

Isn’t it known how well the vaccines work?
Yes and no. In fact, there is reliable data for the three vaccines approved in the EU on how well they protect against corona disease. The active ingredient from Biontech / Pfizer has efficacy values ​​of more than 90 percent. However, it has so far been unclear whether the vaccines only ensure that the disease does not break out or also protect against the infection as such. This is an important difference, because in order to contain the pandemic as quickly as possible, as few people as possible should be infected. In Germany around two percent of the population have already received the second dose of vaccine, most of them the Biontech agent.

What kind of manuscript is there at the moment?
It is a previously unpublished publication by Biontech and Pfizer together with the Israeli Ministry of Health. Using Israeli health data from vaccinated and unvaccinated people, it was examined, among other things, how well the active ingredient protects against diseases, but also against infections. It is important to know that the manuscript has neither been published by the company nor in a specialist journal that has been peer-reviewed. It was leaked to Israeli journalists from the “ynet” Internet portal and is available to the German Press Agency. Neither Biontech nor the Israeli Ministry of Health wanted to comment.

What’s in the manuscript?
The active ingredient is “highly effective” in preventing infections with Sars-CoV-2, the authors write. They had the data from tens of thousands of positive corona tests in Israel available and looked to see how many of those infected were vaccinated or not. The result: The proportion of people with full vaccination protection who tested positive for Corona within a certain period of time was significantly lower than the proportion of those who were not vaccinated. With regard to this protection, the study authors write of an «effectiveness» of 89.4 percent.

Why is this number to be used with caution?
The results of the study are not as clear-cut as the bare number suggests. The authors themselves point out that their approach may have led to the effect of vaccination on infections being overestimated. Because in Israel the unvaccinated are tested more often than the vaccinated. For this reason alone, there could have been more positive tests in the unvaccinated group. The Israeli news portal ynet also writes: “The Ministry of Health made it clear that the data on effectiveness against infections are the least certain compared to the other data.”

What does a German expert say about the 89.4 percent?
Vaccination expert Sebastian Ulbert from the Fraunhofer Institute for Cell Therapy and Immunology (IZI) has a hard time making an assessment in an interview with the German Press Agency. He thinks the value of 89.4 percent is not very reliable. In the investigation, for example, there were not two defined groups (vaccinated and unvaccinated) that were regularly tested in a fixed manner. Instead, data from voluntary tests were used, which make comparisons difficult. In addition, the expert hopes that the approach of the study authors will be presented in a more detailed and comprehensible manner through the subsequent scientific review process than is the case in the current version.

What significance would it have if the risk of infection for vaccinated people were much lower?
The hope is that those who have been vaccinated will rarely be infected with Sars-CoV-2 and thus not pass on the pathogen. That would help enormously to get the infection situation under control. The SPD health expert Karl Lauterbach then interprets the results of the manuscript in this direction. «These evaluations are of great importance. They are the first clear indication that you are not infected and not contagious after the vaccination, ”says the SPD politician of“ Bild am Sonntag ”. This means that the vaccination would actually enable herd immunity. «And make it possible to return to normal life. At least that’s what the results with Biontech suggest at the moment. “

When could there be more clarity?
Pfizer and Biontech have not yet commented on the leaked manuscript version. The two companies were expected to publish the paper in the coming days. Israel’s Corona commissioner Nachman Asch told the army broadcaster on Sunday that it was still unclear to what extent the corona vaccination would also prevent others from being infected. He hoped to find out more about it in the coming weeks. Other vaccine manufacturers have ongoing studies on the subject.

Which results are still in the study manuscript?
The investigation confirms once again that the vaccine is very effective in preventing diseases and Covid deaths. The study also showed that the vaccine also works with the more contagious variant B.1.1.7, which was first detected in the UK. Because at the time of the investigation, four out of five positive tests were due to the variant. (SDA)



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