Medical Technology

Death Plummets and Severe COVID-19 Risk with Pfizer Booster

According to two large studies published in the New England Journal of Medicine, the Pfizer/BioNTech booster lowers the chance of being diagnosed with illness or death from COVID-19.

Both studies were completed prior to the Omicron variant’s release.

One study that incorporated data from more than 4 million patients was conducted by Yinon M.Bar-On, MSc of the Weizmann Institute of Science, Rehovot. The incidence of confirmed SARS/CoV-2 infection in the booster group was lower than that of the non-boosters by approximately 10.

This was the case for all five age groups (range between the groups [starting at age 16, 9.0 and 17.2).

The risk for severe COVID-19 during the primary analysis decreased in the group of boosters by a factor of 17.9 (95% CI, 15.1 – 21.2), among those aged 60 or older. Risk of contracting severe illness in the 40-59 age group was lower by a ratio of 21.7 (95 percent CI, 10.6 – 44.2).

The risk of death among those in the 60 and older age groups was also decreased by 14.7 (95% CCI 10.0 – 21.4)

Researchers analyzed the data for the period of July 30 to October 10, 2021, from the Israel Ministry of Health database on 4.69 million people at age 16 who had received two Pfizer doses at least five months prior to the time of the study.

In the principal analysis, the researchers compared the rates of confirmed COVID-19, severe illness and death among those who had gotten an injection at least 12 days earlier with the rates in the group that did not receive a booster.

The authors write: “Booster vaccination programs may be a method of limiting transmission without costly social-distancing measures and quarantines. Our results show that the booster dose against the dominant [D]elta variant is beneficial in the short-term for persons who are between the ages of 16 and.

Death Risk Lower by 90%

A second study in the journal was conducted by Ronen Arbel, PhD from Clalit Health Services in Tel Aviv, Israel. It included more than 800,000. Participants also showed a significantly lower risk of death among those who received the booster.

Participants aged 50 and over who received a booster within five months of a second Pfizer dose had 90% less risk of dying from COVID-19 than those who didn’t receive the booster.

The adjusted hazard ratio for death due to COVID-19 in the booster group, as compared with the non-booster group which was 0.10; 95% of the CI was 0.07 – 0.14; P0.01 .001. Of the 843,208 participants eligible for the study, 758,118 (90%) received the booster during the 54-day study.

The study included all Clalit Health Services (CHS) members who were 50 or older at the beginning date and had received two Pfizer doses at least 5 months earlier. CHS is the largest of the four Israeli healthcare organizations that provide obligatory healthcare to 52 percent of the Israeli population.

The authors point out that even though the study duration was only 54 days (August 6-September 29) in that time “the rate of COVID-19 in Israel was one of the highest in the world.”

The authors of both the original articles note that the studies are limited by the time spans and that more long-term studies are required to understand how booster shots stack up to known and future variants, such as Omicron.

The full text includes information about the authors of the Bar-On et al research. The authors of the Ronen and al study have not disclosed any financial relationships that are relevant to their research.

New Engl J Med. Published online on December 8, 2021. Bar-On et al study, Arbel et al study

Marcia Frellick is a freelance journalist located in Chicago. She previously worked as an editor at, Science News, Chicago Tribune, and Chicago Sun-Times. Cloud (Minnesota) Times. Follow her on Twitter @mfrellick

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