First to Vaccinate and first to party: A Warning to the World

Isreal being one of the most vaccinated nations in the world is a test case for how Delta will play out. So far, it’s not pretty.

Isreal became one of the most vaccinated countries by the beginning of the year. By the mid of march people in Isreal started partying as lockdown ended by April. Masks have more or less vanished, people started leading normal lives without the fear of the pandemic.

The protocols were hardly followed, but the people of Isreal did not know that this pandemic is not going to be over so soon. It will mutate and take another form, it will come back with different colors.

Israel, which has used the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine on 57% of its population, became the first country to begin a booster campaign – for the vulnerable and those aged over 60.

See What the Israel Health Minister has to Say

Israeli Minister of Health Nitzan Horowitz said  “Now is a critical time,” as the 56-year-old got a COVID-19 booster shot on 13 August, the day his country became the first nation to offer a third dose of vaccine to people as young as age 50. “We’re in a race against the pandemic.”

 His message was meant for his fellow Israelis, but it is a warning to the world. Israel has among the world’s highest levels of vaccination for COVID-19, with 78% of those 12 and older fully vaccinated, the vast majority with the Pfizer vaccine. Yet the country is now logging one of the world’s highest infection rates, with nearly 650 new cases daily per million people. More than half are fully vaccinated people, underscoring the extraordinary transmissibility of the Delta variant and stoking concerns that the benefits of vaccination subside over time.

The absolute number of vaccinated Israelis means some breakthrough infections were inevitable, and the unvaccinated are still far more likely to end up in the hospital or die. But Israel’s experience is forcing the booster issue onto the radar for other nations, suggesting as it does that even the best-vaccinated countries will face a Delta surge.

“This is a very clear warning sign for the rest of the world,” says Ran Balicer, chief innovation officer at Clalit Health Services (CHS), Israel’s largest health maintenance organization (HMO). “If it can happen here, it can probably happen everywhere.”

Still, studies suggest boosters might have broader value. Researchers have shown that boosting induces a prompt surge in antibodies, which are needed in the nose and throat as a crucial first line of defense against infection. The Israeli government’s decision to start boosting those 50 and older was driven by preliminary Ministry of Health data indicating people over age 60 who have received the third dose were half as likely as their twice-vaccinated peers to be hospitalized in recent days, Mevorach says. CHS also reported that out of a sample of more than 4500 patients who received boosters, 88% said any side effects from the third shot were no worse and sometimes milder than from the second.

Booster’s are not the Solution

Yet boosters are unlikely to tame a Delta surge on their own, says Dvir Aran, a biomedical data scientist at Technion. In Israel, the current surge is so steep that “even if you get two-thirds of those 60-plus [boosted], it’s just gonna give us another week, maybe 2 weeks until our hospitals are flooded.” He says it’s also critical to vaccinate those who still haven’t received their first or second doses and to return to the masking and social distancing Israel thought it had left behind—but has begun to reinstate.

Aran’s message for the United States and other wealthier nations considering boosters is stark: “Do not think that the boosters are the solution.

Therefore, it is a lesson that the entire world should look into, Corona is not over, it will come up with variants. So, before breaking off the protocols and starting to party again can cost you very expensive. Follow protocols, put on your masks when you go out, and wash your hands regularly should become the motto in everyone’s life

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