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Early witnesses of the effect of vaccines 

  • Israel, the country with the most advanced vaccination drive in the world, is starting to witness the effects of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine. More than 40% of Israelis have now received the first dose of the Pfizer vaccine. Israel has seen a 60% reduction in coronavirus infections in adults three weeks after they have received the first shot. That is great news as it has been found that the UK strain of the virus has already spread in Israel, suggesting Pfizer’s vaccine will also be effective in fighting the British version of the virus. Further studies continue to indicate that Pfizer/BioNTech shots are efficient in protecting against the UK variant of coronavirus.  

  • The UK continues to be on track with vaccine administration, with the daily rate of vaccination going from 300,000 jabs last Tuesday to a record of almost half a million this Saturday. If this rate is successfully kept up, the top four priority groups will be covered by February 10, nearly a week ahead of schedule. The weekly report shows case rates are now decreasing across all age groups, and hospital admissions are stabilising. With this good news in mind, The UK government plans to offer a first dose of COVID-19 vaccine to every adult by September.  

  • We are now at the end of the first month since the start of vaccination campaigns. Worldwide, more than 56.7 million doses have been administered in 52 countries, according to data collected by Bloomberg. The latest rate was roughly 2.85 million a day, on average. Below is a chart summarizing the progress of vaccinations per country.

Cumulative COVID-19 vaccination doses administered per 100 people

Medical study advancements 

  • Initially, the goal of COVID-19 vaccines is to prevent severe illness and death from the coronavirus. They do not aim to prevent people from catching the disease and thus, inoculated people may still be contagious. This may not be the case however, according to recent a study in Israel, which indicates that people who received the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine develop an immune response significantly stronger than those who recover from COVID-19. This means that vaccines might prevent COVID-19 transmission. Building on a study mentioned in last week’s report, further research showed most people who have had Covid-19 are protected from catching it again for at least five months, a study led by Public Health England shows. 

  • Two recent studies found that smartwatches may be efficient in detecting signs of potential coronavirus infection in pre-symptomatic users up to seven days before individuals had confirmed COVID-19 infection. This finding could represent an additional way to help containing the virus by identifying pre-symptomatic subjects and quarantining them.  

  • Due to COVID-19 precautions, the flu rate has dropped dramatically this year. In the US for example, influenza cases went from 65,000 cases in 2019 down to just a 1,000 in 2020, a striking pattern also observable worldwide. While doctors suspect the influenza cases will be back next season, there are reasons to think it may not be to the extent it was when people were not taking any of the safety precaution habits acquired during the pandemic. 

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