A two-dose Pfizer/BioNTech vaccination provides just 33-percent protection against infection by the Omicron variant of the coronavirus, but 70-percent protection against hospitalization, according to a large-scale analysis in South Africa released Tuesday.
The first large-scale analysis of vaccine effectiveness in the region where the new variant was discovered appears to support early indications that omicron is more easily transmissible and that the Pfizer shot isn’t as effective in protecting against infection as it was against the delta variant.
The analysis was based on more than 211,000 positive Covid-19 test results, 41 percent from adults who had received two doses of the Pfizer vaccine. About 78,000 of these positive Covid-19 test results between Nov. 15 and Dec. 7 were attributed to omicron infections. The study was carried out by Discovery Health, South Africa’s largest private health insurer, and the South African Medical Research Council.
The data are gathered from the first three weeks of South Africa’s omicron-driven wave and may change as time passes. South Africa is the first country to experience a surge in Covid-19 driven by the omicron variant.
South Africa has experienced rapid community spread — concentrated in its most populous province, Gauteng — dominated by the omicron variant.
The seven-day rolling average of daily new cases in South Africa has risen over the past two weeks from 8.07 new cases per 100,000 people on Nov. 29 to 34.37 new cases per 100,000 people on Dec. 13, according to Johns Hopkins University. The death rate hasn’t increased during that same period.