Estimating the effectiveness of the Pfizer COVID-19 BNT162b2 vaccine after a single dose. A reanalysis of a study of ‘real-world’ vaccination outcomes from Israel

Research output: Working paperPreprint


A distinctive feature of the roll out of vaccination against SARS-CoV-2 virus in the UK was the decision to delay the timing of the second injection till 12 weeks after the first. The logic behind this is to protect more people sooner and so reduce the total number of severe infections, hospitalisations, and deaths. This decision caused criticism from some quarters due in part to a belief that a single injection may not give adequate immunity. A recent paper based on Israel’s experience of vaccination suggested that a single dose may not provide adequate protection. Here we extract the primary data from the Israeli paper and then estimate the incidence per day for each day after the first injection and also estimate vaccine effectiveness for each day from day 13 to day 24. We used a pooled estimate of the daily incidence rate during days 1 to 12 as the counterfactual estimate of incidence without disease and estimated confidence intervals using Monte Carlo modelling. After initial injection case numbers increased to day 8 before declining to low levels by day 21. Estimated vaccine effectiveness was pretty much 0 at day 14 but then rose to about 90% at day 21 before levelling off. The cause of the initial surge in infection risk is unknown but may be related to people being less cautious about maintaining protective behaviours as soon as they have the injection. What our analysis shows is that a single dose of vaccine is highly protective, although it can take up to 21 days to achieve this. The early results coming from Israel support the UK policy of extending the gap between doses by showing that a single dose can give a high level of protection.
Original languageUndefined/Unknown
Publication statusPublished - 3 Feb 2021

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