Among older Israelis, serious COVID rate six times as high if unvaccinated

Among older Israelis, serious COVID rate six times as high if unvaccinated

As government desperately tries to galvanize 1.1 million who are spurning vaccine, data shows that severe cases also far higher among younger people if they aren’t inoculated

By Nathan Jeffay Source “The Times of Israel” 10 August 2021,

Israelis over 60 years old receive their third dose of the COVID-19 vaccine at a Clalit health care center on August 10, 2021 (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

Despite the Delta variant, vaccines are delivering high protection, and the rate of serious infections in Israel is six times higher among older people who fail to inoculate than others in the same age bracket.

Health Ministry data shows that among Israelis aged 60-plus, there are 16.6 people per 100,000 in serious condition. Among the unvaccinated the figure is 98.5. (There were 394 people in serious condition nationwide as of Tuesday morning, the ministry said.)

Israel is struggling with a major COVID-19 spike, and on Tuesday coronavirus czar Salman Zarka said the country was at a “critical point.”

Like other countries facing the Delta variant, Israel has seen a drop in vaccine effectiveness, with the Health Ministry announcing in early July that it is now 64 percent effective in preventing infection, while effectiveness rates were previously in the 90s.

But the key parameter is serious illness, and experts say the latest statistics paint an encouraging picture. Get The Times of Israel’s Daily Edition by email and never miss our top stories Newsletter email address By signing up, you agree to the terms

“They very clearly show that despite the highly infectious nature of the Delta variant, the vaccine is still kicking in and preventing serious illness,” Prof. Nadav Katz, a coronavirus statistician from the Hebrew University, told The Times of Israel. An Israeli health worker, poised to give a COVID-19 vaccine, on August 08, 2021 in Jerusalem. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

“It’s important to show this graph. It shows how extremely effective the vaccine is in preventing morbidity,” Katz said.

In the graph, below, the blue line shows how many unvaccinated people are in serious condition per 100,000 population, and the dark green line shows fully vaccinated people. The light green refers to partly vaccinated people,

This graph, by Israel’s Ministry of Health, shows the number of serious COVID cases among over-60s by date, per 100,000 people. The left axis shows the number of people. The top line shows unvaccinated people, the bottom line shows fully vaccinated people. The bottom line represents partly-vaccinated people.

Under 60s are feeling the benefit of vaccines in avoiding serious illness, as are those above that age. For every 100,000 people under 60 who are not vaccinated, 1.6 are in serious condition with the coronavirus. Among the fully vaccinated the figure is 0.5.

The stats come as Israel’s government is trying hard to convince the 1.1 million citizens who are eligible for vaccines but failing to take shots that they should do so.

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett has spoken out harshly against vaccine refusers, and ministers are reportedly considering financial incentives to get them to inoculate. They are believed to take the view that convincing the many teenagers who are failing to vaccinate but pose a significant risk as spreaders of infection would be an effective way to prevent another lockdown.

An high school student receives a COVID-19 vaccine injection, at a vaccination center in Tel Aviv, on January 23, 2021. (Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90)

Vaccine holdouts tend to be young, with a particularly high concentration among the under-30s.

Data on vaccination levels in different locales additionally highlights lower take-up in Arab and ultra-Orthodox areas.

Nationally, some 90.2% of Israelis age 90-plus are vaccinated with at least two shots, and for the 80-89 age group the figure is 91.5%. It is even higher, 93.1%, for people in their 70s. But the rates decline among younger age groups: 87.2% for people in their 60s; 84.6 for people in their 50s and 81.2% for people in their 40s.

For Israelis in their 30s and 20s, the rates are 77.8% and 72.4% respectively. The 16-19 age group is only 68% vaccinated, and only 26.2% of 12- to 15-year-olds are fully vaccinated.

Prof. Nadav Katz, expert in coronavirus statistics, (Noam Moreno)

“The low rate of youth vaccinating suggests that parents who may well have vaccinated themselves are more hesitant about taking their teenagers for vaccines,” said Katz. He also observed that the younger people are, the smaller they see the risk that COVID-19 poses to their health, and therefore the lower the enthusiasm for vaccines.

In each age group, there is a gap of a few percent between people who are fully vaccinated and those who had a first shot but didn’t get a second.

Katz said that data on rates of serious illness should encourage these people to follow through, as it suggests that people are compromising their protection by failing to show up for a second dose.

Among the 60-plus, the partly vaccinated have 39.9 serious cases per 100,000, higher than the 16.6 for the vaccinated but far short of the 98.5 for unvaccinated.

The number of seriously ill for people under 60 are too small to allow an accurate analysis, though generally, the unvaccinated and partly vaccinated have been more likely to be in serious condition than the fully vaccinated.

“The indication here is that it’s highly recommended to follow through, and go for a second shot as it increases protection,” said Katz. The Climate Crisis and Responsible Journalism

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COVID-19 Cases in Israel Rise Despite Third Shot for Those Over 60

By Linda Gradstein August 10, 2021 10:50 AM An air traveler takes a coronavirus disease (COVID-19) test before boarding an El Al flight to Israel at JFK International Airport in New York, August 5, 2021.

JERUSALEM – The U.S. Centers for Disease Control has just added Israel, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip to its list of places where travel is not recommended because of growing rates of COVID-19. On Monday, for the first time since February, Israel documented just under 6,000 new cases, almost 400 of them serious. The increase comes despite Israel’s decision to give a third vaccination to all adults over 60.

Israel was one of the first countries in the world to roll out a vaccine program, and the first to offer a third shot to adults over 60.  

Despite that, the number of people contracting COVID-19 continues to climb. Professor Salman Zarka, Israel’s coronavirus czar, says the country is approaching a critical point.

Yehuda Widawsky, a 102-year-old Holocaust survivor, receives a third Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a hospital in Tel Aviv, Israel, Aug. 1, 2021.

After Another COVID Spike, Israel Launches Third Vaccine Dose Health officials say decision to offer third dose follows evidence that effectiveness of two doses wanes over time

He said that Israel is asking everyone who can, to get vaccinated – not only for themselves but as a sign of mutual responsibility. Zarka said it won’t stop coronavirus but more shots could prevent a fourth lockdown.  

Despite an intensive campaign, there are still more than one million Israelis 12-years-old and above who are eligible to get vaccinated but have not yet done so. The rates are higher among teenagers and in the Arab community.  

A new Israeli study found that, despite the delta variant, vaccines provide a high level of protection. The study found that the rate of serious infection is six times higher in older people who were not vaccinated than in those who were.

Israel is also trying to contain the delta variant by requiring anyone coming into Israel, including vaccinated Israelis, to quarantine.  

Mark Feldman, the CEO of Ziontours, told Israel Radio that the new regulations have frustrated many would-be travelers, leading them to cancel their trips.

“They want to make it so that from almost any country in the world, if you go there, you better be expected to do a seven-day quarantine upon your return here,” said Feldman. “They don’t care that to get on any plane to come to Israel you have to do a test, the government doesn’t seem to care that when you land in this country you need to do a test.”  

Feldman added that the government has made it all but impossible for non-Israelis to enter the country and has frequently changed its policy.

“As much as the new government has tried, the problem is the policy changes day by day so it’s incredibly difficult to make plans both to travel out of Israel, and to travel from Israel,” said Feldman.  

Israel has reinstated its Green Pass, meaning anyone who wants to enter a restaurant, a gym or a hotel, must either show proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test. The government has also set up more than 400 stations around the country for rapid COVID19 testing.

Next month, schools are set to reopen, and there are several Jewish holidays when families gather and many attend synagogue. Some Israeli officials say another lockdown is likely then. Others say that if more Israelis vaccinate and wear masks, they hope serious COVID-19 cases will drop and a lockdown will be avoided. 

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