Vaccine Reduces Coronavirus Transmission, Duh….
The single biggest public health reason why advanced societies vaccinate is that it reduces disease transmission. This has been the case with every modern vaccine since Smallpox and Polio. Now a new Israeli study shows that the Coronavirus vaccine also reduces disease transmission. My first response when reading these studies this morning was a resounding “Duh…” Let’s dig in.
The Vaccine Pushback
I have been blown away by the size of the community of people who for whatever reason have decided that it isn’t their civic duty to get vaccinated. We are in a pandemic and our reactions to that have destroyed our economy. The US spent more money in the first 6 weeks of the pandemic trying to stimulate the economy than it spent during all of World war II. After that conflict, the US was left with manufacturing industries second to none. After spending trillions trying to prop up our economy due to Coronavirus, we’re left deeper in debt with a bigger trade deficit to China.
Despite all of this, it’s been estimated that between 25-40% of all Americans will refuse a vaccine for COVID. I’ve debunked many of the science myths floating around out there including that the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines would rewrite people’s DNA, prime their immune systems so that people would begin dropping like flies, or that the vaccines only reduced symptoms and had no protective effect. One oft provided story on why people were avoiding vaccination was that it wasn’t proven to help reduce disease transmission. That one was half true, as the vaccines were developed using operation warp speed in record time so these studies hadn’t been yet completed, but given that every modern vaccine reduces disease transmission this claim was a bit ridiculous.
New Israeli Studies
In December of 2020, the Israeli government approved the Pfizer vaccine and by mid-December, hospital staff were being vaccinated. By Jan. 24th, 2021 all staff had been vaccinated, hence the new study looked at disease transmission in 9.109 health care workers (HCW) after vaccination.
During that period, infection rates among HCWs were studied (1). The researchers found that infection rates dropped 30% 1-14 days after the first vaccination and 75% 15-28 days after the first dose. The second number, when used for an adjusted rate reduction, was 85%. Remember, this is a two-dose vaccine and these numbers are only after the first dose.
The second study used data collected through Feb 13th and included Israelis who has received their second shot of the Pfizer vaccine and the results were released by the Israeli Health Ministry (2). The COVID-19 vaccine was 98.9% effective at preventing COVID-19 deaths. Let’s think about that for a second. It prevented 99% of deaths. That’s not “symptom reduction” that had been claimed by many natural health news websites, that’s death reduction.
In addition, the vaccine was 99.2% effective in preventing serious disease, also decreased morbidity by 95.8%,, and decreased the likelihood of hospitalization by 98.9%. So can we stop the silly discussion that the vaccine only reduces symptoms? In fact, if both of the two almost identical vaccines (Pfizer and Moderna) end up with similar reductions in disease transmission and death prevention, these vaccines are capable of both ending the pandemic and reducing deaths and hospital costs by huge swaths.
As a result of this new data, Israelis are announcing a “Green Pass” where vaccinated individuals can begin participating in pre-pandemic activities.
If you’re my age, you may remember a middle school class called Civics. It was where you learned about government and what was required of you to be a good citizen in a democracy. When it comes to vaccines, while these weren’t directly discussed, it’s the same concept. Now that data is out there showing that getting vaccinated not only protects the person vaccinated but protects others, it’s everyone’s civic duty to get vaccinated.
I know that in political circles, there is a belief that the pandemic is a hoax. If you read this blog I have spent hundreds of hours digging into what’s real and what’s not. I have criticized all sorts of media hype about COVID and tried hard to dig underneath the craziness to see what was underneath. Ultimately, once the second wave all-cause mortality numbers were available from CDC, I was able to determine that the deaths are very real, even if the huge numbers being reported in the media are likely lower based on actual CDC data. However, none of that reporting discounts that we have very real COVID excess deaths and that our reactions to that crisis has harmed many more people in terms of suicide, drug use, bankruptcy, and economic havoc. So even if you believe that the pandemic is overblown, if you want the world to return to normal, get vaccinated.
The upshot? These two Israeli studies show the obvious conclusion that a vaccine that was already tested in tens of thousands of people before approval performs well in the real world. In addition, they show that disease transmission is greatly reduced, which after all, is why a young healthy person would want to get this vaccine. Not inadvertently killing Grandma is a good thing.
(1) Amit S, et al. Early rate reductions of SARS-CoV-2 infection and COVID-19 in BNT162b2 vaccine recipients. The Lancet. February 18, 2021 DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/S0140-6736(21)00448-7
(2) The Times of Israel. Vaccine prevents 98.9% of COVID deaths, Israel’s Health Ministry data shows. https://www.timesofisrael.com/israel-says-vaccine-dramatically-effective-prevents-98-9-of-covid-deaths/ Accessed 2/23/21