Israel study shows risk of shunning precautions after first vaccine shot

Officials say 240 people caught the virus after the first Pfizer-BioNTech dose, which provides only 50 per cent immunity

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Hundreds of people in Israel contracted Covid-19 days after receiving their first vaccination dose, highlighting the risks of shunning safety measures when not fully inoculated.

A report by the country's health ministry found 240 people tested positive in between their first and second shots, which are taken 21 days apart.

More than a million of Israel's nine million population have received the Pfizer-BioNTech jab, one of the two vaccines also available in Dubai, since December 19.

Pfizer-BioNTech's first shot is estimated to be 50 per cent effective at fighting off the virus. That rises to 95 per cent in the weeks after taking the second shot.

UAE residents should continue to be cautious even if they have had the vaccine

“Even if someone has taken the vaccination, they should remember it is not a guarantee they are immune,” said Dr Amaka Uzu, a family medicine consultant at Bareen International Hospital, Abu Dhabi.

“My advice for UAE residents is to continue to be cautious.”

She was quick to stress that the immunisation process is not complete until both doses of the vaccination have been taken.

“After the first dose, a second is required to complete the immunisation process,” said Dr Uzu, who is awaiting a second shot of the Chinese-made Sinopharm vaccine offered in Abu Dhabi.

“However, people must continue to wear masks, keep socially distant and maintain good hand hygiene, even if they have had the vaccination.”

Dubai Health Authority said residents who have received the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine must still take PCR tests when required, such as for travel purposes; practise social distancing and continue to wear face masks if mandated.

First receiver of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine in Dubai

First receiver of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine in Dubai

Officials warned members of the public not to delay or miss their second dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech jab.

Israel leads the way in global inoculation drive

Israel has the world's highest vaccination rate. Health authorities there report 12.59 vaccination doses per 100 people, compared to 3.53 in Bahrain and 1.39 in the UK.

By comparison, France has vaccinated only 352 people by the end of 2020, according to the University of Oxford's Our World in Data website.

In the US, a target of immunising 20 million people by December 31 fell well short, with only4.23 million being vaccinated by January 2.

Most receiving the jab in Israel are aged 60 or above, a demographic at risk of more severe symptoms that has been given priority.

Since the vaccination programme launched, clinics there have administered about 150,000 jabs a day.

By law, all Israelis must register with a recognised healthcare provider, which then contacts people according to priority.

Research showed protection against Covid-19 can take up to 10 days to develop after the first dose is administered, but even then it reaches only about 50 per cent effectiveness.

While the vast majority of Israelis to receive a jab reported no problems, about one in 1,000 experienced mild side effects such as weakness, dizziness or fever.

Only 51 people required any form of medical attention.

Health authorities in the country said 319 people reported feeling slightly unwell, with 293 more reporting localised symptoms at the injection site, such as pain, restricted movement, redness or swelling.

State broadcaster Kan reported four people died shortly after receiving the vaccine, but three of those were of unrelated causes.

The fourth case, an 88-year-old man with serious health complications, is currently under investigation by Israel’s Health Ministry.

So far, the UAE has identified 213,231 coronavirus infections, including with 189,709 recoveries and 679 deaths.