Connect with us

Business

Israel’s quick COVID-19 vaccine rollout offers encouraging data in the battle against the pandemic

Published

 on

A woman receives a booster shot of her COVID-19 vaccination at an assisted living facility in Netanya, Israel, on Jan. 19, 2021.

RONEN ZVULUN/Reuters

Israel’s swift vaccination rollout has made it the largest real-world study of Pfizer Inc’s COVID-19 vaccine. Results are trickling in, and they are promising.

More than half of eligible Israelis – about 3.5 million people – have now been fully or partially vaccinated. Older and at-risk groups, the first to be inoculated, are seeing a dramatic drop in illnesses.

Among the first fully-vaccinated group there was a 53 per cent reduction in new cases, a 39 per cent decline in hospitalizations and a 31 per cent drop in severe illnesses from mid-January until Feb. 6, said Eran Segal, data scientist at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot, Israel.

COVID-19 news: Updates and essential resources about the pandemic

Is my area coming out of COVID-19 lockdown? Can I travel out-of-province? A guide to restrictions across Canada

Coronavirus tracker: How many COVID-19 cases are there in Canada and worldwide? The latest maps and charts

In the same period, among people under age 60 who became eligible for shots later, new cases dropped 20 per cent but hospitalizations and severe illness rose 15 per cent and 29 per cent, respectively.

Reuters interviewed leading scientists in Israel and abroad, Israeli health officials, hospital heads and two of the country’s largest health care providers about what new data shows from the world’s most efficient vaccine rollout.

The vaccine drive has provided a database offering insights into how effective the vaccines are outside of controlled clinical trials, and at what point countries might attain sought-after but elusive herd immunity.

More will be known in two weeks, as teams analyze vaccine effectiveness in younger groups of Israelis, as well as targeted populations such as people with diabetes, cancer and pregnant women, among a patient base at least 10 times larger than those in clinical studies.

“We need to have enough variety of people in that subgroup and enough follow-up time so you can make the right conclusions, and we are getting to that point,” said Ran Balicer, chief innovation officer of HMO Clalit, which covers more than half the Israeli population.

Pfizer is monitoring the Israeli rollout on a weekly basis for insights that can be used around the world.

As a small country with universal health care, advanced data capabilities and the promise of a swift rollout, Israel provided Pfizer with a unique opportunity to study the real-world impact of the vaccine developed with Germany’s BioNTech

But the company said it remained “difficult to forecast the precise time when herd protection may start to manifest” because of many variables at play, including social distancing measures and the number of new infections generated by each case, known as the reproduction rate.

Even Israel, in the vanguard of the global vaccine drive, has lowered expectations of emerging quickly from the pandemic because of soaring cases.

A third national lockdown has struggled to contain transmission, attributed to the fast-spreading U.K. variant of the virus. On a positive note, the Pfizer/BioNTech shot appears to be effective against it.

“We’ve so far identified the same 90 per cent to 95 per cent efficacy against the British strain,” said Hezi Levi, director-general of the Israeli Health Ministry.

“It is still early though, because we have only now finished the first week after the second dose,” he said, adding: “It’s too early to say anything about the South African variant.”

WHICH ARM?

Israel began its vaccination program Dec. 19 – the day after Hanukkah – after paying a premium for supplies of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine.

Four days later, the more contagious U.K. variant was detected in four people. While the vaccine is preventing illness in older people, the variant now makes up about 80 per cent of new cases.

Finding themselves in a race between the vaccine and the new variant, Israel began giving shots to those over 60 and gradually opened the program to the rest of the population.

Every detail was digitally tracked, down to in which arm the patient was jabbed and what vial it came from.

One week after receiving the second Pfizer dose – the point at which full protection is expected to kick in – 254 out of 416,900 people were infected, according to Maccabi, a leading Israeli health care provider.

Comparing this against an unvaccinated group revealed a vaccine efficacy of 91 per cent, Maccabi said.

By 22 days after full vaccination, no infections were recorded.

Israeli experts are confident the vaccines rather than lockdown measures brought the numbers down, based on studying different cities, age groups and pre-vaccine lockdowns.

The comparisons were “convincing in telling us this is the effect of the vaccination,” said Weizmann Institute’s Segal.

With 80 per cent of senior citizens partially or fully vaccinated, a more complete picture will begin to emerge as soon as this week.

“And we do expect further decline in the overall cases and in the cases of severe morbidity,” said Balicer, of HMO Clalit.

The large number of COVID-19 infections in some places makes it more likely for new variants of the virus to emerge. Science Reporter Ivan Semeniuk explains how vaccines may not be as effective against these new strains, making it a race to control and track the spread of variants before they become a dangerous new outbreak. The Globe and Mail

VACCINES AND TRANSMISSION

There may be early signs that vaccinations are tamping down virus transmission in addition to illness.

At Israel’s biggest COVID-19 testing centre, run by MyHeritage, researchers have tracked a significant decrease in the amount of virus infected people carry, known as cT value, among the most-vaccinated age groups.

This suggests that even if vaccinated people get infected, they are less likely to infect others, said MyHeritage Chief Science Officer Yaniv Erlich.

“The data so far is probably most clear from Israel. I do believe that these vaccines will reduce onward transmission,” said Stefan Baral, from Johns Hopkins School of Public Health in Maryland.

DIMINISHING RETURNS

It is unclear whether Israel will be able to keep up its world-leading vaccination pace.

“When you vaccinate fast and a lot, you eventually get to the hardcore – those who are less willing or harder to reach,” said Boaz Lev, head of the Health Ministry’s advisory panel.

The vaccination pace is seen even more crucial with the British variant’s rapid transmission.

“In the race between the U.K. variant spreading and the vaccinations, the end result is that we are seeing a kind of plateau in terms of the severely ill,” said Segal.

The big question is whether vaccines can eradicate the pandemic.

Michal Linial, a professor of molecular biology and bioinformatics at Jerusalem’s Hebrew University, said data from past decades suggests viruses become endemic and seasonal.

She predicted this coronavirus would become far less aggressive, perhaps requiring a booster shot within three years.

“The virus is not going anywhere,” she concluded.

Source:- The Globe and Mail

Source link

Continue Reading

Business

CPP Investments CEO Mark Machin resigns after travelling to UAE for COVID-19 vaccine – CTV News

Published

 on


The chief executive of the fund that manages Canada Pension Plan investments has resigned after it was revealed that he decided to travel to the United Arab Emirates, where he arranged to be vaccinated against COVID-19.

CPP Investments said Friday that Mark Machin tendered his resignation after discussions with the board Thursday night.

The resignation comes after Machin on Thursday evening sent a memo to staff, in which he said he received a COVID-19 vaccination while on a “very personal” trip to Dubai.

Machin said in the email viewed by The Canadian Press that he remains in Dubai with his partner “for many reasons, some of which are deeply personal.”

“This was a very personal trip and was undertaken after careful consideration and consultation,” the memo reads.

The federal government is actively discouraging Canadians from travelling abroad and recently implemented stricter quarantine measures for those returning home.

Machin told staff he followed all travel protocols related to his role as head of the pension fund while on the trip.

“This trip was intended to be very private and I am disappointed it has become the focus of public attention and expected criticism,” he wrote.

Several politicians and health-care officials have become high profile flashpoints in recent months for leaving the country despite public health advice to the contrary.

Among them, the former CEO of the London Health Sciences Centre is now embroiled in litigation after his travel to the U.S. prompted the hospital to terminate his contract.

Rod Phillips, Ontario’s former finance minister, resigned from his post in late December after taking a personal trip to St. Barts.

A spokeswoman for Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland said that while CPPIB is an independent organization, the revelation is “very troubling.”

“The federal government has been clear with Canadians that now is not the time to travel abroad,” Katherine Cuplinskas said in an emailed statement.

“We were not made aware of this travel and further questions should be directed to the CPPIB on this matter.”

CPP Investments said Friday it has no comment beyond the statement announcing Machin’s departure.

The fund’s board has appointed John Graham as its new CEO. Graham was its global head of credit investments.

CPP Investments, which had $475.7 billion in assets under management as of Dec. 31, invests money on behalf of retired and active employees covered by the Canada Pension Plan.

Machin joined CPP Investments in 2012 and was appointed president and chief executive in June 2016. Before joining the pension fund manager, he spent 20 years at investment bank Goldman Sachs.

“The board wishes to thank Mr. Machin for his global perspective, leadership and commitment to excellence and we offer him our sincere best wishes for the future.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 26, 2021

Let’s block ads! (Why?)



Source link

Continue Reading

Business

Machin out at CPPIB following trip abroad to get COVID vaccine – BNN

Published

 on


Mark Machin resigned as head of Canada Pension Plan Investment Board after he went to the United Arab Emirates and received a COVID-19 vaccine, defying guidance from Justin Trudeau’s government to avoid international travel.

“After discussions last evening with the board, Mr. Machin tendered his resignation and it has been accepted,” CPPIB said in a written statement Friday morning. John Graham was named to replace him as chief executive officer.

The office of Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland criticized Machin after the Wall Street Journal revealed the trip Thursday evening. Canada is still struggling to ramp up its own immunization campaign against the virus.

‘Very Troubling’

“While the CPPIB is an independent organization, this is very troubling,” Katherine Cuplinskas, a spokeswoman for Freeland, said by email. “The federal government has been clear with Canadians that now is not the time to travel abroad.”

The finance department was unaware of Machin’s trip, Cuplinskas said, referring further questions to the CPPIB.

Despite securing more doses per capita than any other nation, Canada has administered enough shots to vaccinate just 4.5 per cent of its population one time, compared with 29 per cent in the U.K. and 20.6 per cent in the U.S., according to Bloomberg’s vaccine tracker. That’s because Canada has to import the vaccines, and shipments have lagged.

Travel Scandals

Recent public opinion has turned against officials who defy the government’s pleas to not leave the country: Rod Phillips, Ontario’s finance minister, was forced to resign on Dec. 31 after it was revealed he took a Caribbean vacation at a time when many businesses in the provinces were ordered to shut their doors to contain the virus.

With vaccine deliveries now accelerating after delays caused in part by export controls in the European Union, Trudeau maintains that every Canadian will be inoculated by the end of September.

Let’s block ads! (Why?)



Source link

Continue Reading

Business

Canada Pension Plan chief resigns after getting vaccinated against COVID-19 in Dubai – CBC.ca

Published

 on


The chief executive of the fund that manages Canada Pension Plan investments has resigned after it was revealed that he decided to travel to Dubai in the United Arab Emirates, where he arranged to be vaccinated against COVID-19.

CPP Investments says Mark Machin tendered his resignation to the board Thursday night.

The board has appointed John Graham as the new CEO.

The federal government is actively discouraging Canadians from travelling abroad and recently implemented strict quarantine measures for those returning home.

Several politicians and health-care officials have become high-profile flashpoints of public anger in recent months for leaving the country despite public health advice to the contrary.

Among them, the former CEO of the London Health Sciences Centre is now embroiled in litigation after his travel to the U.S. prompted the hospital to terminate his contract.

Rod Phillips, Ontario’s former finance minister, resigned from his post in late December after taking a personal trip to Saint Barthélemy, a Caribbean island popularly known as St. Barts.

CPP Investments, which had $475.7 billion in assets under management as of Dec. 31, invests money on behalf of retired and active employees covered by the Canada Pension Plan.

Let’s block ads! (Why?)



Source link

Continue Reading

Trending