Vaccines and Severe Cases in Israel

Benny Gantz (C), A former IDF Chief and the head of Israeli Resilience party speaks to supporters during an election campaign event in Tel Aviv. Israelis will vote in a parliamentary election on April 9, choosing among party lists of candidates to serve in the 121-seat Knesset
RAMAT GAN, ISRAEL - JULY 14: Ezra Halili, a chronic leukemia patient receives his third dose of COVID19 vaccine as his partner Tsila Hason holding his arm at Sheba Medical Center on July 14, 2021 in Ramat Gan, Israel... RAMAT GAN, ISRAEL - JULY 14: Ezra Halili, a chronic leukemia patient receives his third dose of COVID19 vaccine as his partner Tsila Hason holding his arm at Sheba Medical Center on July 14, 2021 in Ramat Gan, Israel. This week the country started offering third doses of the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine to adults with weak immune systems, due to concern about the more virulent Delta variant. (Photo by Amir Levy/Getty Images) MORE LESS
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August 9, 2021 3:30 p.m.

As we’ve been discussing there is a paucity of information on the precise effectiveness of vaccines vs the Delta variant and the contours of the pandemic in the new circumstances of the last eight weeks or so. We know in general that vaccines continue to be highly effective at preventing severe illness. But the details are not as easy as they should be to come by. This seems to be both the product of very new facts which studies are only catching up with and a continued paucity of good national data from the CDC. That vacuum is filled by anecdotal information.

With that in mind I wanted to show you some new data out of Israel which is illuminating. These two graphs come from an article in Haaretz based on new data released by the health ministry. The numbers come from roughly the last month.

The first graph makes the obvious point: if you’re not interested in dying you really want to get the vaccine. And both doses. The chart is reminiscent of the chart from San Diego County I referenced last week.

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It’s the second graph that interests me most though, as this one breaks down severe cases by vaccination status and age.

As you can see, severe cases in fully vaccinated individuals all but don’t exist until you get to people in their 60s. Even then they remain quite low both in relative and absolute terms.

It’s when you get to people over 75 or so that you start to see significant numbers of severe breakthrough cases. But the protection provided by vaccination clearly remains massive. For vaccinated people in their 80s there were 33.1 cases per 100,000 residents. There were almost 250 per 100,000 among the same age group who were unvaccinated.

It’s basically night and day. But there’s still enough risk that it warrants precautions for the elderly, even those who are vaccinated.

We’re still flying largely blind on the protection provided by a third dose of the mRNA vaccines. But you can see what’s driving the decision in Israel to provide them to everyone over age 60.

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