Israel is at the forefront in vaccine rollouts for teens and adults. In fact, Israel pioneered a vaccine passport. And, in recent months Israel has also been a leading advocate for booster shots.
A person is considered not fully vaccinated in Israel unless they have received the third dose.
Three months later, Israeli health officials claim that the data is clear. Booster shots were used to reduce the spread of the fourth wave virus that struck the country in September and August.
This wave was at its highest point when there were more than 8,000 new Covid-19 patients per day and more than 500 people in serious condition.
The virus is currently affecting between 450-500 people per day on a seven-day basis. There are currently 129 people in serious conditions.
According to data from the ministry of health, the data shows stark differences between people who have the vaccine and booster and those who don’t.
This is evident even more among Covid-19 patients: Israeli officials reported that in October, the number of people 60 and older who were in serious condition after receiving two doses of Covid-19 was five times the rate for those who received three doses.
Although the overall caseload has dropped since then, there are still significant differences. According to the health ministry, on Sunday, there was four times as many people in serious condition over 60 who had only received two shots compared to those who were considered fully vaccinated and had had three doses.
Lessons from Israel
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseasess, has stated that such data is a reason why it will soon become a recommendation for everyone to get boosters as soon as they are eligible.
Fauci said that while the Israeli data is clear, the differences in immunity waning are more evident in the elderly than it is across the board. Fauci spoke to NBC last week.
As cases rise in some parts of Europe, the lesson from Israel is being learned by more and more nations.
According to health experts, the spread of booster shots across Western countries shows the inequity of vaccine deployment.
Our World In Data shows that only 10% of Africans have had their first vaccine. This means that only 7% of Africa has been fully vaccinated.
Fears of the fifth wave
The bad news is that Israel’s case numbers have declined since September but they have not fallen further. Worse, the R-rate, which is the average number infected per person by Covid-19, has returned to above 1 according to data from the health ministry. This is a troubling sign that the virus could be spreading.
Experts such as Professor Eran Segal from Israel’s Weizmann Institute warn that it is too early for the country to determine if they are entering a fifth wave. They point out that 1.5 million people who received two doses have not returned for their booster shots.
“There are many people whose vaccines have gotten less effective over time, compared to the amount of boosters and new vaccines. This has resulted in a gradual decrease in the total. [population’s]Segal last week tweeted “Immunity”.
Israel is working to hold back the potential fifth wave. Officials are encouraging those who are not vaccinated and those who qualify for booster doses to get their shots. They are also keeping children vaccinated and taking preventative steps.
According to Israeli health officials many of Israel’s new infections occur among children aged 5-11 years. On Monday, a campaign began to vaccinate this age group.
Dr. Ran Balicer stated that “About half of our daily infections occur in the age group below 11.” Ran Balicer was the chairman of Israel’s Covid-19 National Expert Advisory Panel. He spoke to CNN last Friday. We believe this vaccination campaign could turn the tide and bring us back down to earth if there is a significant uptake. [in vaccinations]As we hope, we will.
Experts agree that it is crucial that anti-Covid precautions are in place even if the population is highly vaccinated, particularly during winter when indoor activities take over.
Nachman Ash (director general of Israel’s Public Health Ministry) said that the increase in cases could be attributed to people not adhering strictly to rules such as wearing masks.
Ash stated, “The enforcement of laws is insufficient.” Ash stated, “And I can see that the public is becoming more relaxed with the passing of time and the infection rate going down. So people are less cautious. We must increase enforcement.
Balicer cautioned that not paying attention to the waning immunity in those who have had two doses “may put people at danger with false reassurance.”
Balicer stated that there is no one-size fits all solution to prevent surges, particularly in winter. It is a combination: indoor masks, population behavior and indoor event restrictions, green certificates and an effective booster program.