Data from 1.2 million members of Israel’s largest health-maintenance organization shows the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is 94 percent effective in preventing symptomatic COVID-19 and 92 percent effective in preventing serious disease in vaccinated people who do get infected.

The study, by the Clalit Research Institute of Clalit Health Services, is thought to be the biggest yet in evaluating the vaccine’s real-world performance.

It compared 600,000 individuals who had received both doses to 600,000 who were unvaccinated. Of the vaccinated group, 170,000 were over age 60, and 430,000 were between 16 and 59.

Epidemiologist Dr. Ran Balicer, founding director of the Clalit Research Institute, explained that this is the first time the Pfizer vaccine’s effectiveness in preventing COVID-19 symptoms—not just infections—has been studied via a comparative analysis of vaccinated individuals and a control group of people with similar characteristics.

Balicer and his team analyzed the data together with a team from Harvard University.

He tweeted on Sunday when the study was released: “We need to turn the spotlight now on the young age group, aged 40-60, who have not yet been vaccinated. These are about 500,000 people, 27% of their peers, who do not always perceive themselves as a population at risk, but are now 31% of the [COVID-19 patients on] respirators. One in 30 people at this age who becomes infected will be hospitalized with a serious illness. Go get vaccinated!”

This article was first published by Israel21c.

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