“You’re never quite sure, after a controlled trial, will it really look like this in the real world?” Dr. Phil R. Dormitzer, vice president and chief scientific officer of viral vaccines at Pfizer, said in an interview. “So that’s some good news.”
Israel’s swift inoculation campaign has outpaced the rest of the world, making the country a kind of test laboratory for the two-dose Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. More than half the nation’s nine million people have received the first dose, and more than one-third have received both.
The country has universal health care, and about 53 percent of the population is enrolled in Clalit Health Services, giving researchers access to a huge pool of data that could be used to make certain that they were drawing sound conclusions.
“In all studies of vaccine effectiveness, a major challenge is to ensure that those we are comparing to identify the vaccine’s effect are similar in the other characteristics that may predict whether they get infected or ill,” said Prof. Marc Lipsitch of the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, who took part in the study. “Clalit’s extraordinary database made it possible to design a study that addressed these challenges.”
“We have more than 20 years of fully digitized electronic medical records,” said Prof. Ran Balicer, who directs Clalit’s research institute and is the senior author of the new study.