The role of Israeli researchers in the scientific literature regarding COVID-19 vaccines

Bruce Rosen, Nadav Davidovitch, Gabriel Chodick, Avi Israeli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Background: The accurate and timely publication of scientific findings is a key component of the global response to the COVID-19 pandemic. This article explores the role of Israeli researchers in the scientific literature regarding COVID-19 vaccines. Methods: Content and bibliometric analysis of articles included in the Web of Science database regarding COVID-19 vaccines, that were published between January 2020 and June 2022. Results: The Web of Science includes 18,596 articles regarding COVID-19 vaccines that were published between January 2020 and June 2022. 536 (3%) of those articles had at least one Israeli author. These "Israeli articles" accounted for 11% of the NEJM articles on COVID-19 vaccines, 9% of such articles in Nature Medicine, and 4% of such articles in the Lancet. 80 of the 536 Israeli articles (15%) were recognized as "Highly Cited Papers" (articles that rank in the top 1% by citations for field and publication year). Most of the Israeli Highly Cited Papers (HCPs) analyzed the safety and/or efficacy of the COVID-19 vaccine developed by Pfizer and BioNTech (BNT162b2). Most of the Israeli HCPs made use of detailed and comprehensive individual data available from Israel's health plans, hospitals, or Ministry of Health. The 15% HCP rate (i.e., the number of HCPs divided by the number of all articles) for the Israeli articles was triple the HCP rate for all articles on COVID-19 vaccines (5%). A key factor contributing to Israel's prominent role in rapid publication of vaccination impact studies was Israel's being a world leader in the initial vaccination rollout, the administration of boosters, and the vaccination of pregnant women. Other contributing factors include Israeli researchers' access to well-developed electronic health record systems linking vaccinations and outcomes, the analytic strengths of leading Israeli researchers and research institutions, collaborations with leading research institutions in other countries, and the ability to quickly identify emerging research opportunities and mobilize accordingly. Recent developments in the priorities and selection criteria of leading journals have also played a role; these include an increased openness to well-designed observational studies and to manuscripts from outside of Europe and North America. Conclusions: Israeli researchers, Israeli research institutions, and the Israeli government can, and should, take concrete steps to build upon lessons learned in the course of the recent surge of high-quality publications related to COVID-19 vaccines (such as the value of linking data across organizations). These lessons can be applied to a wide range of fields, including fields that go well beyond vaccines and pandemic responses.

Original languageEnglish
Article number39
JournalIsrael Journal of Health Policy Research
Volume11
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Dec 2022

Keywords

  • COVID-19
  • Israel
  • Publications
  • Vaccination

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Health Policy

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