Wednesday, February 24, 2021

New hope: Biontech vaccination could protect against corona infection – Coronavirus Vienna



Unfortunately, the results of the study are not as clear-cut as the bare figures suggest.
© APA / DPA / FRISO GENTSCH

Can the corona vaccination contain the pandemic by preventing infections? An unpublished manuscript is now circulating on the Biontech / Pfizer vaccine that suggests this.

According to an unpublished publication, the corona vaccine from Biontech / Pfizer could also protect against infection with the pathogen.

The active ingredient is “highly effective” in preventing infections with SARS-CoV-2, according to a manuscript for a study by the two manufacturers together with the Israeli Ministry of Health. So far there has only been knowledge to what extent the agent protects against diseases.

Study results difficult to assess

However, the study authors also write that their approach could lead to the effect of vaccination on infections being overestimated. The study results are difficult to assess.

The manuscript was leaked to Israeli journalists from the internet portal “ynet” and has not been officially published, neither on a preprint server nor in a specialist journal that has been examined by experts. Biontech did not want to comment on the document when asked on Sunday. The S manuscript is based on Israeli health records of vaccinated and unvaccinated people.

Study not officially published

So far it was unclear to what extent the vaccine from Biontech / Pfizer prevents infections with the coronavirus. Because the first results of a large clinical investigation with more than 40,000 test subjects did not refer to infections, but to diseases.

According to this early study, the Biontech vaccine was 95 percent effective on disease. This means that 95 percent fewer diseases occurred among the subjects in a vaccinated group than among those in a control group. In order to get the pandemic under control as quickly as possible, not only diseases should be prevented, but chains of infection should also be broken.

Tricky manuscript: does Biontech vaccine slow down the virus?

The most important answers to the unpublished manuscript:

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, until now it was 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.

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 Internet portal “ynet”. Neither Biontech nor the Israeli Ministry of Health wanted to comment.

What’s in the manuscript?

The authors write that the active ingredient is “highly effective” in preventing infections with SARS-CoV-2. They had the data from tens of thousands of positive corona tests in Israel available and looked at how many of those infected were vaccinated or not vaccinated. 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. The authors of the study write of an “effectiveness” of 89.4 percent for this protection.

Why should this number 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 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.

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.





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