Biostatistics Seminar Series with Micha Mandel, Ph.D. - COVID-19 During 2021 in Israel: Waning Immunity and the Booster Effect

November 04

Hosted by the Department of Biostatistics.

BIO: Micha Mandel is the head of the Department of Statistics and Data Science at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. His research focuses on developing methods to analyze multi-state survival data under complex sampling designs, with the main motivation being inference on hospital acquired infections. In the past year he is part of a group of researchers who analyze the national Israel COVID-19 data.

ABSTRACT: In December 2020, Israel began a mass vaccination campaign against COVID-19 administering the Pfizer BNT162b2 vaccine, which led to a sharp curtailing of the outbreak. After a period with almost no SARS-CoV-2 infections, a resurgent COVID-19 outbreak began in mid-June 2021. On July 30, 2021, a third (booster) dose of the vaccine was approved in Israel for individuals 60 years or older who had received the second dose at least five months previously. The booster vaccination campaign was gradually expanded to younger age groups who received a second dose five or more months earlier. Using Israel's national database, we quantify the extent of waning immunity of two doses against the Delta variant, and estimate the difference in the rate of confirmed infections and severe COVID-19 between recipients of only two doses of vaccine and those also receiving a third booster dose. In this talk, Dr. Mandel presents the methods used to analyze the COVID-19 data, and the main results that indicate the effectiveness of the booster dose for all age groups.

The work is joint with Yair Goldberg, Yinon Bar-On, Omri Bodenheimer, Laurence Freedman, Nir Kalkstein, Barak Mizrahi, Sharon Alroy-Preis, Nachman Ash, Amit Huppert, and Ron Milo.