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1.
Nat Rev Immunol ; 2021 Dec 07.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1560762

ABSTRACT

Breakthrough infections with severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) in fully vaccinated individuals are receiving intense scrutiny because of their importance in determining how long restrictions to control virus transmission will need to remain in place in highly vaccinated populations as well as in determining the need for additional vaccine doses or changes to the vaccine formulations and/or dosing intervals. Measurement of breakthrough infections is challenging outside of randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind field trials. However, laboratory and observational studies are necessary to understand the impact of waning immunity, viral variants and other determinants of changing vaccine effectiveness against various levels of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) severity. Here, we describe the approaches being used to measure vaccine effectiveness and provide a synthesis of the burgeoning literature on the determinants of vaccine effectiveness and breakthrough rates. We argue that, rather than trying to tease apart the contributions of factors such as age, viral variants and time since vaccination, the rates of breakthrough infection are best seen as a consequence of the level of immunity at any moment in an individual, the variant to which that individual is exposed and the severity of disease being considered. We also address key open questions concerning the transition to endemicity, the potential need for altered vaccine formulations to track viral variants, the need to identify immune correlates of protection, and the public health challenges of using various tools to counter breakthrough infections, including boosters in an era of global vaccine shortages.

2.
Vaccine ; 40(3): 512-520, 2022 01 24.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1561043

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: Methodologically rigorous studies on Covid-19 vaccine effectiveness (VE) in preventing SARS-CoV-2 infection are critically needed to inform national and global policy on Covid-19 vaccine use. In Israel, healthcare personnel (HCP) were initially prioritized for Covid-19 vaccination, creating an ideal setting to evaluate early real-world VE in a closely monitored population. METHODS: We conducted a prospective study among HCP in 6 hospitals to estimate the effectiveness of the BNT162b2 mRNA Covid-19 vaccine in preventing SARS-CoV-2 infection. Participants filled out weekly symptom questionnaires, provided weekly nasal specimens, and three serology samples - at enrollment, 30 days and 90 days. We estimated VE against PCR-confirmed SARS-CoV-2 infection using the Cox Proportional Hazards model and against a combined PCR/serology endpoint using Fisher's exact test. RESULTS: Of the 1567 HCP enrolled between December 27, 2020 and February 15, 2021, 1250 previously uninfected participants were included in the primary analysis; 998 (79.8%) were vaccinated with their first dose prior to or at enrollment, all with Pfizer BNT162b2 mRNA vaccine. There were four PCR-positive events among vaccinated participants, and nine among unvaccinated participants. Adjusted two-dose VE against any PCR-confirmed infection was 94.5% (95% CI: 82.6%-98.2%); adjusted two-dose VE against a combined endpoint of PCR and seroconversion for a 60-day follow-up period was 94.5% (95% CI: 63.0%-99.0%). Five PCR-positive samples from study participants were sequenced; all were alpha variant. CONCLUSIONS: Our prospective VE study of HCP in Israel with rigorous weekly surveillance found very high VE for two doses of Pfizer BNT162b2 mRNA vaccine against SARS-CoV-2 infection in recently vaccinated HCP during a period of predominant alpha variant circulation. FUNDING: Clalit Health Services.

3.
Nat Med ; 27(10): 1693-1695, 2021 10.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1526092

ABSTRACT

To evaluate the effectiveness of the BNT162b2 messenger RNA vaccine in pregnant women, we conducted an observational cohort study of pregnant women aged 16 years or older, with no history of SARS-CoV-2, who were vaccinated between 20 December 2020 and 3 June 2021. A total of 10,861 vaccinated pregnant women were matched to 10,861 unvaccinated pregnant controls using demographic and clinical characteristics. Study outcomes included documented infection with SARS-CoV-2, symptomatic COVID-19, COVID-19-related hospitalization, severe illness and death. Estimated vaccine effectiveness from 7 through to 56 d after the second dose was 96% (95% confidence interval 89-100%) for any documented infection, 97% (91-100%) for infections with documented symptoms and 89% (43-100%) for COVID-19-related hospitalization. Only one event of severe illness was observed in the unvaccinated group and no deaths were observed in either group. In summary, the BNT162b2 mRNA vaccine was estimated to have high vaccine effectiveness in pregnant women, which is similar to the effectiveness estimated in the general population.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 Vaccines/adverse effects , COVID-19/prevention & control , Pregnancy Complications, Infectious/prevention & control , Adolescent , Adult , COVID-19/epidemiology , COVID-19/virology , COVID-19 Vaccines/administration & dosage , Cohort Studies , Female , Humans , Incidence , Pregnancy , SARS-CoV-2/isolation & purification , Young Adult
4.
National Bureau of Economic Research Working Paper Series ; No. 28978, 2021.
Article in English | NBER, Grey literature | ID: grc-748403

ABSTRACT

We estimate the impact of increased access to telemedicine that followed widespread adoption during the March-April 2020 lockdown period in Israel (due to COVID-19). We focus on the post-lockdown period, which in Israel was characterized by a temporary return to normalcy. Prior to the lockdown, telemedicine accounted for about 5% of all primary care visits. It peaked at around 40% during the lockdown, and remained high, at around 20%, during the post-lockdown period. Using a difference-in-differences framework, we compare primary care episodes before and after the lockdown between patients with high and low access to telemedicine, with access defined based on their main primary care physician’s propensity to adopt telemedicine during the lockdown. Increased access to telemedicine results in a 3.5% increase in primary care visits, but a 5% lower per-episode cost, so overall resource utilization is slightly lower. We find that remote visits involve slightly fewer prescriptions and more follow-ups, mainly with the same physician, which is consistent with a prolonged diagnostic path in the absence of physical examination. However, analyzing specific conditions, we find no evidence of missed diagnoses or adverse outcomes. Taken together, our findings suggest that the increased convenience of telemedicine does not compromise care quality or raise costs.

5.
N Engl J Med ; 385(24): 2299, 2021 12 09.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1493311
6.
Lancet ; 398(10316): 2093-2100, 2021 12 04.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1488010

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: Many countries are experiencing a resurgence of COVID-19, driven predominantly by the delta (B.1.617.2) variant of SARS-CoV-2. In response, these countries are considering the administration of a third dose of mRNA COVID-19 vaccine as a booster dose to address potential waning immunity over time and reduced effectiveness against the delta variant. We aimed to use the data repositories of Israel's largest health-care organisation to evaluate the effectiveness of a third dose of the BNT162b2 mRNA vaccine for preventing severe COVID-19 outcomes. METHODS: Using data from Clalit Health Services, which provides mandatory health-care coverage for over half of the Israeli population, individuals receiving a third vaccine dose between July 30, 2020, and Sept 23, 2021, were matched (1:1) to demographically and clinically similar controls who did not receive a third dose. Eligible participants had received the second vaccine dose at least 5 months before the recruitment date, had no previous documented SARS-CoV-2 infection, and had no contact with the health-care system in the 3 days before recruitment. Individuals who are health-care workers, live in long-term care facilities, or are medically confined to their homes were excluded. Primary outcomes were COVID-19-related admission to hospital, severe disease, and COVID-19-related death. The third dose effectiveness for each outcome was estimated as 1 - risk ratio using the Kaplan-Meier estimator. FINDINGS: 1 158 269 individuals were eligible to be included in the third dose group. Following matching, the third dose and control groups each included 728 321 individuals. Participants had a median age of 52 years (IQR 37-68) and 51% were female. The median follow-up time was 13 days (IQR 6-21) in both groups. Vaccine effectiveness evaluated at least 7 days after receipt of the third dose, compared with receiving only two doses at least 5 months ago, was estimated to be 93% (231 events for two doses vs 29 events for three doses; 95% CI 88-97) for admission to hospital, 92% (157 vs 17 events; 82-97) for severe disease, and 81% (44 vs seven events; 59-97) for COVID-19-related death. INTERPRETATION: Our findings suggest that a third dose of the BNT162b2 mRNA vaccine is effective in protecting individuals against severe COVID-19-related outcomes, compared with receiving only two doses at least 5 months ago. FUNDING: The Ivan and Francesca Berkowitz Family Living Laboratory Collaboration at Harvard Medical School and Clalit Research Institute.

8.
N Engl J Med ; 385(23): 2132-2139, 2021 12 02.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1454878

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: Reports have suggested an association between the development of myocarditis and the receipt of messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccines against coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19), but the frequency and severity of myocarditis after vaccination have not been extensively explored. METHODS: We searched the database of Clalit Health Services, the largest health care organization (HCO) in Israel, for diagnoses of myocarditis in patients who had received at least one dose of the BNT162b2 mRNA vaccine (Pfizer-BioNTech). The diagnosis of myocarditis was adjudicated by cardiologists using the case definition used by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. We abstracted the presentation, clinical course, and outcome from the patient's electronic health record. We performed a Kaplan-Meier analysis of the incidence of myocarditis up to 42 days after the first vaccine dose. RESULTS: Among more than 2.5 million vaccinated HCO members who were 16 years of age or older, 54 cases met the criteria for myocarditis. The estimated incidence per 100,000 persons who had received at least one dose of vaccine was 2.13 cases (95% confidence interval [CI], 1.56 to 2.70). The highest incidence of myocarditis (10.69 cases per 100,000 persons; 95% CI, 6.93 to 14.46) was reported in male patients between the ages of 16 and 29 years. A total of 76% of cases of myocarditis were described as mild and 22% as intermediate; 1 case was associated with cardiogenic shock. After a median follow-up of 83 days after the onset of myocarditis, 1 patient had been readmitted to the hospital, and 1 had died of an unknown cause after discharge. Of 14 patients who had left ventricular dysfunction on echocardiography during admission, 10 still had such dysfunction at the time of hospital discharge. Of these patients, 5 underwent subsequent testing that revealed normal heart function. CONCLUSIONS: Among patients in a large Israeli health care system who had received at least one dose of the BNT162b2 mRNA vaccine, the estimated incidence of myocarditis was 2.13 cases per 100,000 persons; the highest incidence was among male patients between the ages of 16 and 29 years. Most cases of myocarditis were mild or moderate in severity. (Funded by the Ivan and Francesca Berkowitz Family Living Laboratory Collaboration at Harvard Medical School and Clalit Research Institute.).

9.
N Engl J Med ; 385(12): 1078-1090, 2021 09 16.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1371631

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: Preapproval trials showed that messenger RNA (mRNA)-based vaccines against severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) had a good safety profile, yet these trials were subject to size and patient-mix limitations. An evaluation of the safety of the BNT162b2 mRNA vaccine with respect to a broad range of potential adverse events is needed. METHODS: We used data from the largest health care organization in Israel to evaluate the safety of the BNT162b2 mRNA vaccine. For each potential adverse event, in a population of persons with no previous diagnosis of that event, we individually matched vaccinated persons to unvaccinated persons according to sociodemographic and clinical variables. Risk ratios and risk differences at 42 days after vaccination were derived with the use of the Kaplan-Meier estimator. To place these results in context, we performed a similar analysis involving SARS-CoV-2-infected persons matched to uninfected persons. The same adverse events were studied in the vaccination and SARS-CoV-2 infection analyses. RESULTS: In the vaccination analysis, the vaccinated and control groups each included a mean of 884,828 persons. Vaccination was most strongly associated with an elevated risk of myocarditis (risk ratio, 3.24; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.55 to 12.44; risk difference, 2.7 events per 100,000 persons; 95% CI, 1.0 to 4.6), lymphadenopathy (risk ratio, 2.43; 95% CI, 2.05 to 2.78; risk difference, 78.4 events per 100,000 persons; 95% CI, 64.1 to 89.3), appendicitis (risk ratio, 1.40; 95% CI, 1.02 to 2.01; risk difference, 5.0 events per 100,000 persons; 95% CI, 0.3 to 9.9), and herpes zoster infection (risk ratio, 1.43; 95% CI, 1.20 to 1.73; risk difference, 15.8 events per 100,000 persons; 95% CI, 8.2 to 24.2). SARS-CoV-2 infection was associated with a substantially increased risk of myocarditis (risk ratio, 18.28; 95% CI, 3.95 to 25.12; risk difference, 11.0 events per 100,000 persons; 95% CI, 5.6 to 15.8) and of additional serious adverse events, including pericarditis, arrhythmia, deep-vein thrombosis, pulmonary embolism, myocardial infarction, intracranial hemorrhage, and thrombocytopenia. CONCLUSIONS: In this study in a nationwide mass vaccination setting, the BNT162b2 vaccine was not associated with an elevated risk of most of the adverse events examined. The vaccine was associated with an excess risk of myocarditis (1 to 5 events per 100,000 persons). The risk of this potentially serious adverse event and of many other serious adverse events was substantially increased after SARS-CoV-2 infection. (Funded by the Ivan and Francesca Berkowitz Family Living Laboratory Collaboration at Harvard Medical School and Clalit Research Institute.).


Subject(s)
COVID-19 Vaccines/adverse effects , COVID-19/complications , Cardiovascular Diseases/etiology , Myocarditis/etiology , Adolescent , Adult , Aged , Aged, 80 and over , Appendicitis/etiology , Cardiovascular Diseases/epidemiology , Female , Herpes Zoster/etiology , Humans , Israel , Kaplan-Meier Estimate , Lymphadenopathy/etiology , Male , Middle Aged , Myocarditis/epidemiology , Risk , Risk Factors , Young Adult
10.
N Engl J Med ; 385(2): 179-186, 2021 Jul 08.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1358382

ABSTRACT

Viral variants of concern may emerge with dangerous resistance to the immunity generated by the current vaccines to prevent coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19). Moreover, if some variants of concern have increased transmissibility or virulence, the importance of efficient public health measures and vaccination programs will increase. The global response must be both timely and science based.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 Vaccines , COVID-19/prevention & control , SARS-CoV-2 , COVID-19/transmission , COVID-19 Vaccines/immunology , Humans , Immunogenicity, Vaccine , Mutation , SARS-CoV-2/pathogenicity , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/genetics , Virulence
11.
N Engl J Med ; 385(2): 179-186, 2021 Jul 08.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1279936

ABSTRACT

Viral variants of concern may emerge with dangerous resistance to the immunity generated by the current vaccines to prevent coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19). Moreover, if some variants of concern have increased transmissibility or virulence, the importance of efficient public health measures and vaccination programs will increase. The global response must be both timely and science based.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 Vaccines , COVID-19/prevention & control , SARS-CoV-2 , COVID-19/transmission , COVID-19 Vaccines/immunology , Humans , Immunogenicity, Vaccine , Mutation , SARS-CoV-2/pathogenicity , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/genetics , Virulence
12.
Nat Med ; 27(8): 1379-1384, 2021 08.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1269391

ABSTRACT

The BNT162b2 mRNA vaccine is highly effective against SARS-CoV-2. However, apprehension exists that variants of concern (VOCs) may evade vaccine protection, due to evidence of reduced neutralization of the VOCs B.1.1.7 and B.1.351 by vaccine sera in laboratory assays. We performed a matched cohort study to examine the distribution of VOCs in infections of BNT162b2 mRNA vaccinees from Clalit Health Services (Israel) using viral genomic sequencing, and hypothesized that if vaccine effectiveness against a VOC is reduced, its proportion among breakthrough cases would be higher than in unvaccinated controls. Analyzing 813 viral genome sequences from nasopharyngeal swabs, we showed that vaccinees who tested positive at least 7 days after the second dose were disproportionally infected with B.1.351, compared with controls. Those who tested positive between 2 weeks after the first dose and 6 days after the second dose were disproportionally infected by B.1.1.7. These findings suggest reduced vaccine effectiveness against both VOCs within particular time windows. Our results emphasize the importance of rigorously tracking viral variants, and of increasing vaccination to prevent the spread of VOCs.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 Vaccines/administration & dosage , COVID-19/virology , RNA, Messenger/genetics , SARS-CoV-2/pathogenicity , Adolescent , Adult , Aged , Aged, 80 and over , COVID-19/epidemiology , Child , Child, Preschool , Female , Humans , Infant , Infant, Newborn , Male , Middle Aged
14.
N Engl J Med ; 384(15): 1412-1423, 2021 04 15.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1099373

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: As mass vaccination campaigns against coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) commence worldwide, vaccine effectiveness needs to be assessed for a range of outcomes across diverse populations in a noncontrolled setting. In this study, data from Israel's largest health care organization were used to evaluate the effectiveness of the BNT162b2 mRNA vaccine. METHODS: All persons who were newly vaccinated during the period from December 20, 2020, to February 1, 2021, were matched to unvaccinated controls in a 1:1 ratio according to demographic and clinical characteristics. Study outcomes included documented infection with the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), symptomatic Covid-19, Covid-19-related hospitalization, severe illness, and death. We estimated vaccine effectiveness for each outcome as one minus the risk ratio, using the Kaplan-Meier estimator. RESULTS: Each study group included 596,618 persons. Estimated vaccine effectiveness for the study outcomes at days 14 through 20 after the first dose and at 7 or more days after the second dose was as follows: for documented infection, 46% (95% confidence interval [CI], 40 to 51) and 92% (95% CI, 88 to 95); for symptomatic Covid-19, 57% (95% CI, 50 to 63) and 94% (95% CI, 87 to 98); for hospitalization, 74% (95% CI, 56 to 86) and 87% (95% CI, 55 to 100); and for severe disease, 62% (95% CI, 39 to 80) and 92% (95% CI, 75 to 100), respectively. Estimated effectiveness in preventing death from Covid-19 was 72% (95% CI, 19 to 100) for days 14 through 20 after the first dose. Estimated effectiveness in specific subpopulations assessed for documented infection and symptomatic Covid-19 was consistent across age groups, with potentially slightly lower effectiveness in persons with multiple coexisting conditions. CONCLUSIONS: This study in a nationwide mass vaccination setting suggests that the BNT162b2 mRNA vaccine is effective for a wide range of Covid-19-related outcomes, a finding consistent with that of the randomized trial.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 Vaccines , COVID-19/prevention & control , Mass Vaccination , Adolescent , Adult , Aged , Aged, 80 and over , COVID-19/epidemiology , COVID-19 Vaccines/immunology , Female , Hospitalization/statistics & numerical data , Humans , Immunogenicity, Vaccine , Incidence , Israel , Kaplan-Meier Estimate , Male , Middle Aged , Treatment Outcome , Young Adult
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