Pfizer vaccine is 94% effective in real-world study

In a promising sign for the global fight against COVID-19, the two-dose Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine has been shown to be about as effective in the real world - as it was in its trials.

On Wednesday the first study of the vaccine in the wild - conducted in Israel - found it was 94% effective in preventing the disease.

It's now two months into Israel's vaccine rollout, which has been one of the fastest in the world.

Until now there's been some uncertainty as to just how effective coronavirus vaccines have been outside the controlled conditions of clinical trials.

But Israel's centralized health system provides a rich source of data, showing that among those given both doses of the Pfizer vaccine, there were 94% fewer symptomatic COVID-19 cases across all age groups.

Nearly half of Israel's nine million people have already received their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, and a third have already received both of them.

As COVID-19 infections fall, Israel has relaxed its third national lockdown and reopened malls, shops, schools and many workplaces in the past two weeks.

Recreational venues like theatres, gyms, hotels and even concerts opened on Sunday, but only for holders of a "Green Pass", a government certificate showing they have either been fully vaccinated against or recovered from COVID-19, and presumed immune.

Also on Wednesday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said all eligible Israelis age 16 and older were expected to be vaccinated by the end of March, allowing a full reopening of the economy by as early as April 5.