Protection of previous SARS-CoV-2 infection is similar to that of BNT162b2 vaccine protection: A three-month nationwide experience from Israel


Worldwide shortage of vaccination against SARS-CoV-2 infection while the pandemic is still uncontrolled leads many states to the dilemma whether or not to vaccinate previously infected persons. Understanding the level of protection of previous infection compared to that of vaccination is critical for policy making. We analyze an updated individual-level database of the entire population of Israel to assess the protection efficacy of both prior infection and vaccination in preventing subsequent SARS-CoV-2 infection, hospitalization with COVID-19, severe disease, and death due to COVID-19. Vaccination was highly effective with overall estimated efficacy for documented infection of 92·8% (CI:[92·6, 93·0]); hospitalization 94·2% (CI:[93·6, 94·7]); severe illness 94·4% (CI:[93·6, 95·0]); and death 93·7% (CI:[92·5, 94·7]). Similarly, the overall estimated level of protection from prior SARS-CoV-2 infection for documented infection is 94·8% (CI:[94·4, 95·1]); hospitalization 94·1% (CI:[91·9, 95·7]); and severe illness 96·4% (CI:[92·5, 98·3]). Our results question the need to vaccinate previously-infected individuals.

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