Israel: The misleading statistics of vaccinated hospital patients

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Emma Teitel
Emma Teitel
Emma Teitel is an award-winning national affairs columnist with the Toronto Star who writes about anything and everything. She got her start at Maclean's Magazine where she wrote frequently about women's issues, LGBT rights, and popular culture.

“This shows that the Biontech/Pfizer vaccine performs very well against Delta in preventing severe disease,” Morris writes in an extensive blog post. The result is in line with previous findings-which also come from Israel.

Vaccine breakthroughs almost never occur in healthy people

In a study published in a journal in July, experts evaluated data from 152 patients from 17 Israeli hospitals who had contracted Covid-19 despite being fully vaccinated. Only six of the 152 people were previously healthy, the rest had previous illnesses, such as a weakened immune system, which can affect the effectiveness of the vaccines (read more here). The median age of those affected was 71 years.

“So there have been virtually no serious breakthroughs of delta infection in Israel in individuals without significant pre-existing conditions,” Morris writes.

In Germany, a similar picture emerges: a total of around 900 cases of people who had to be treated in hospital despite being fully vaccinated with Covid-19 are known to date – with around 49 million fully vaccinated. The vast majority were over 60 years old.

The problem is the vaccination gap

Research has shown that the number of antibodies decreases over time after vaccination-especially in the elderly. This can lead to vaccinated people becoming infected in rare cases and, in much rarer cases, becoming seriously ill.

“In my opinion, the data are meaningful enough to indicate a certain decrease in protection,” Morris writes, referring to another analysis of infections in vaccinated people from Israel, which has not yet been published. But the extent is still unclear. “It could be that the loss of protection is mainly limited to asymptomatic infections.«

The problem in Israel and many other countries, including Germany, is therefore currently less that the effectiveness of vaccines against delta is somewhat worse and decreases over time with regard to infections, but the overall low vaccination rate. Israel is no longer as good at vaccination as it was at the beginning of the year.

The vaccination world champion is no longer

After a rate of almost 60 percent fully vaccinated was reached in the spring, the vaccination campaign stalled. To date, only about 63 percent of the Israeli population is fully vaccinated. This means the other way round: almost 40 percent lack the complete vaccination protection that is important against the delta variant.

This was sufficient to keep earlier variants of the virus at bay even with comparatively few other countermeasures in the spring and summer. In order to contain the much more contagious delta variant, however, a significantly higher proportion of vaccinated is necessary. In purely mathematical terms, the number of immune systems in society as a whole should be at least about 85 percent – preferably even higher (read more about this here).

According to official data, only 58 percent of the total population in Germany is fully vaccinated. Here, the number of cases is also increasing significantly again (see chart). The vaccination world champions, on the other hand, include Malta, with a fully vaccinated rate of more than 90 percent, in Iceland almost 75 percent of the population have complete protection.

“Especially younger age groups are affected by infections,” writes the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) in its current weekly report for Germany. The same applies to the growing number of hospital cases: “Most hospitalised cases were transmitted in the 35-59 age group, followed by the 15-34 age group.”So in those age groups where vaccination rates are comparatively low.

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