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Pfizer slays the Eeyores again

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Data from Israel indicates that the Pfizer vaccine is highly effective 1)at preventing asymptomatic transmission and 2)against the UK variant:

Pfizer’s vaccine is successful in preventing not only symptomatic COVID-19, but also asymptomatic disease according to new real-world data, Israel’s Ministry of Health and Pfizer/BioNTech announced Thursday.

As concerning COVID variants spread and the companies behind the three authorized vaccines hurry to test their shots against them, there’s other promising news from Thursday’s announcement: this latest analysis was performed when more than 80% of Israel’s COVID-19 cases were from the UK variant B.1.1.7 — demonstrating that the Pfizer vaccine is equally effective against this variant, which is known to be more contagious, and possibly even more deadly, Israel’s Ministry of Health reported.

The announcement included a key statistic related to an alarming way the virus can spread — via people who are asymptomatic, who may not even know they’re contagious. The Pfizer vaccine is so far 94% effective at preventing this type of infection, Israel’s Ministry of Health reports — encouraging news that the vaccine could help slow silent transmission.

Both of these findings are a huge deal. In particular, if the vaccines prevent the overwhelming majority of asymptomatic that substantially increases the activities that can be done safely once vaccines are widely available.

Incidentally, there was a good discussion in comments yesterday about how inept public officials are using the fearmongering stories about COVID variants to make excuses for spikes in infection rates after they open up prematurely, blaming the spikes on the variants. Don’t buy it. Masks are very effective at reducing spread! Even if variants are somewhat more contagious it’s opening up unsafe activities prematurely that’s the problem, and again it’s particularly indefensible given how good the vaccines are and how quickly distribution is ramping up.

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