Israel’s COVID-19 vaccine boosters show signs of taming a delta

Israel's COVID-19 vaccine boosters show signs of taming a delta

Less than a month into the campaign to boost a COVID-19 vaccine, Israel is seeing signs of an impact on the country’s high infection rates and rates of serious illness fueled by the rapidly spreading delta strain, officials and scientists said.

The Delta hit Israel in June, just as the country was beginning to reap the benefits of one of the world’s fastest vaccines.

With the economy open and most restrictions lifted, Israel went from single-digit daily infections and zero deaths to about 7,500 daily cases last week, 600 people were hospitalized in serious condition and more than 150 people died this week alone.

On July 30, the country began giving a third dose of the Pfizer/BioNtech vaccine to people over 60, the first country to do so. On Thursday, it expanded eligibility to those 40 and older who received their second dose at least 5 months ago, and said longevity may decline further.

In the past 10 days, the epidemic has declined among the first age group, with more than a million of them receiving a third dose of the vaccine, according to data from the Israeli Ministry of Health and scientists interviewed by Reuters.

The prevalence of the disease among vaccinated people aged 60 or older – known as the reproduction rate – began to decline steadily around August 13, dropping to less than 1, indicating that each infected person transmits the virus to less than one person. A reproduction rate of less than 1 means that the outbreak is decreasing.

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The booster doses have an effect on infection, the scientists said, but it’s also possible that other factors contributed to the decline.

“The numbers are still very high, but what has changed is that the very large increase in infections and severe cases has decreased, as has the pace of the epidemic,” said Eran Segal, a data scientist at the Weizmann Institute. Science and government advisor.

“This is probably due to the third booster doses, the uptake of the people taking the first dose, the large number of people infected each week, maybe 100,000, who are now naturally immune,” Segal said.

Anti-lock reinforcement

After recording one of the highest per capita infection rates in the world this month, the question now is whether Israel can fight its way out of a fourth outbreak without imposing another lockdown that would hurt its economy.

There is some evidence that while the vaccine is still very effective in preventing serious diseases, the protection against it wanes over time. But there is no consensus among scientists and agencies on the need for a third dose, and the World Health Organization has said that more of the world’s population needs to be vaccinated with the first dose before people can get the vaccine. The third dose.

People wait in line at the MDA station to receive coronavirus vaccines in Tel Aviv, August 14, 2021 (Source: AVSHALOM SASSONI / MAARIV)

The United States announced plans to offer booster doses to all Americans eight months after the second vaccine dose, citing data showing reduced protection. Canada, France and Germany also planned promotion campaigns.

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About 1 million of Israel’s 9.3 million residents have so far chosen not to be vaccinated at all, and children under 12 still do not qualify for the injection. On Thursday, health officials said they had identified weak immunity in people under the age of 40, even though relatively few people became seriously ill.

According to Doron Gazit, a member of the Hebrew University COVID-19 expert panel that advises the government, the rise in the number of very poorly vaccinated people in the 60s and over age group has been steadily halting over the past 10 days.

“We attribute that to the boosting shots and the more cautious behavior recently,” Gazit said.

More than half of people over the age of 60 have had a third stroke, according to the Department of Health.

According to Gazet, the number of new serious cases among unvaccinated patients aged 70 and over is now seven times the number of vaccinated patients, and the gap will continue to grow as the number of infections continues to rise. Among those over 50, the gap is four times greater.

“We are optimistic, but we are very cautious,” Israeli Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz told Kan on Sunday. “It gives us more time, the spread slows down and we move away from the close.”

But even if the boosters slow the epidemic, they are unlikely to prevent Delta completely.

Dvir Aran, biomedical data scientist at the Technion – With cases dwindling, the Israel Institute of Technology said, other measures are needed as well as reinforcements to stop the pandemic. “It will be a long time before enough people get a third dose and then thousands of people get seriously ill.”

Since Delta’s advance, Israel has reintroduced the mask in enclosed spaces, restricted gatherings and promoted rapid testing.

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The “Live with COVID” policy will be tested in September, when schools reopen after the summer holidays and when Jewish holidays begin, when families traditionally gather to celebrate.

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