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Photo: Jan Hetfleisch/Getty Images

The Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine was at least 97% effective in preventing symptomatic COVID-19 cases and 94% effective against asymptomatic infection, according to real-world data from Israel released on Thursday.

Why it matters: The latest analysis from Israel, where a world-leading 44% of the population has received two vaccine doses, suggests that the Pfizer vaccine could significantly reduce asymptomatic transmission — a key driver of infections — in addition to preventing severe illness and death.

Details: The analysis came from real-world data collected between Jan. 17 and March 6 in Israel. Vaccine effectiveness was measured two weeks after the patient received their second dose.

  • The shot was found to be 97% effective at preventing symptomatic cases, hospitalizations and deaths, supporting Pfizer's clinical trial findings that said it was 95% effective.
  • Unvaccinated people were 44 times more likely to develop symptomatic coronavirus and 29 times more likely to die from the virus.
  • The analysis was also conducted at a time when more than 80% of the tested specimens were the B.1.1.7 coronavirus variant first discovered in the U.K. — providing real-world evidence of the Pfizer vaccine's effectiveness against one of the more contagious strains.

Worth noting: This data has not yet been peer-reviewed.

Go deeper

Tech's war for your wrist

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Tech's biggest companies are ramping up competition for the real estate between your hand and your elbow.

The big picture: The next big hardware platform after the smartphone will likely involve devices for your eyes, your ears and your wrists.

2 hours ago - World

Tokyo Olympics to allow up to 10,000 fans at each event

Tokyo 2020 president Seiko Hashimoto (L) and IOC President Thomas Bach on Monday. Photo: Rodrigo Reyes Marin/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

Organizers of the Tokyo Olympics said Monday that venues can be filled up to 50% capacity when the Games kick off on July 23, with a maximum of 10,000 Japanese spectators at each event, AP reports.

Why it matters: Medical experts advising the Japanese government had recommended against allowing fans, citing the low vaccination rates in Japan and the potential for new variants to drive up infections.

2 hours ago - Health

The psychology behind COVID-19 vaccine lotteries

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

NBA season tickets. Scholarships. A chance at $5 million. The list of lotteries and raffles states are launching to drive up COVID-19 vaccination rates is growing, and some local officials are already reporting "encouraging" results.

Driving the news: The reason why, some psychologists and public health experts say, is that the allure of lotteries for many people is simply that the prospect of winning a great prize seems better than passing up the chance, regardless of the odds.