The new bivalent vaccines adapted to the omnion variant have reduced hospitalizations in people over 65 years of age by 81%. This was indicated by research carried out in Israel, a country that pioneered vaccines against covid-19.
The study led by Israeli doctor Ronen Arbel, a researcher at Sapir College University, and published in the Social Science Research Network (SSRN), is the first large-scale evaluation in the world of the bivalent doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, adapted to new variants.
Importantly, the vaccine reduced the risk of death in the same age range by 86%. However, according to the lead researcher, since only one death from covid has been recorded among people who received the reinforcement against ómicron, effectiveness against mortality is considered a less reliable indicator than statistics on hospitalizations.
Despite this, and the fact that the study is mainly focused on Pfizer’s vaccines, it is optimistic about Moderna’s new doses, since it uses similar technology and has been described as “an effective and essential tool”.
Arbel, a researcher also at Israel’s largest health insurance company, Clalit, is part of a group of academics whose previous studies were consulted by vaccine policymakers in the U.S. before approving the third and fourth doses.
For this study, anonymous data were analyzed from all Clalit members over 65 years of age who received the first vaccines against covid-19, more than 500,000 people; and compared hospitalizations and deaths between those who received the omicron booster from September and those who did not.
Dr. Doron Netzer, head of Clalit’s department of medicine and another study author, said the research is “encouraging” given that the bivalent vaccine was introduced with limited data on its effectiveness.
“The vaccine was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in an emergency procedure without efficacy studies regarding the prevention of serious disease. Therefore, there was uncertainty in the world about its usefulness,” Netzer said.
“The results of the study we conducted show unequivocally that the Omicron vaccine is significantly associated with the reduction of the risk of mortality from hospitalizations and mortality from the coronavirus, including many of the current strains of omicron,” he added in statements to Israeli media.
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