Message to adapt to Covid-19 from Israel

The number of nCoV infections in Israel is still increasing sharply despite the successful vaccination campaign, but life has returned to almost completely normal.

Israel on September 2 reported 11,187 new nCoV infections, a record high in the country. Although partly due to increased testing, the high number of cases is still surprising for a country that has vaccinated two full doses of Pfizer’s Covid-19 vaccine for more than 60% of its population, and three months ago it recorded only two doses of Pfizer’s Covid-19 vaccine. new single-digit infections.

According to data from the Israeli Ministry of Health, of the new infections, there are more than 6,000 unvaccinated cases, but also more than 4,000 people have been fully vaccinated. Israel is the first country in the world to recommend a third dose of the vaccine for all people 12 years of age and older, changing the definition of “fully vaccinated”.

Even so, considering the current situation, Professor Eyal Leshem at Israel’s Sheba Medical Center still sees positives.

“It all happened in the context of almost completely normal activities. The only significant limitation is the regulation of wearing masks in enclosed spaces,” said Leshem, an infectious disease expert.

A man receives a third dose of the Covid-19 vaccine in Jerusalem in mid-August. Photo: Reuters.

A man received the third dose of Covid-19 vaccine in Jerusalem in mid-August. Photo: Reuters.

Even without shutting down the economy, the number of serious nCoV infections in Israel is still much lower than the level above 1,100 in January, when the government imposed a blockade. Data from the Israeli Ministry of Health shows that the number of serious cases on August 29 was 752, but as of September 2, it has decreased to 673. The number of recent daily deaths has been around 20-30, or less than one half figures in January.

“We have seen excellent protection from two doses of the vaccine. The rate of severity in those who haven’t been vaccinated is close to 300/100,000, while it’s 19/100,000 in those who have had two doses, and they are all over 60 years old,” Leshem analyzed.

Professor Paul Tambyah, president of the Asia-Pacific Society of Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases in Singapore, expressed a similar opinion. He evaluates The current situation in Israel helps to reinforce the view that the only option may be to live with Covid-19. The number of daily new nCoV infections in Singapore also increased from single digits to nearly 200 as the country began its strategy of living with the virus.

“Despite Israel reporting rather high numbers, the number of severe cases and deaths is still much lower than in pre-vaccination outbreaks,” Tambyah pointed out.

The expert noted Israel has a different demographic than Singapore and a significant portion of the population cannot afford to be vaccinated. However, trends in Israel demonstrate “we may have to accept more cases, as long as the number of severe cases and deaths do not increase accordingly”.

However, the question is, if two doses of the vaccine can be so effective, why is Israel rushing to deploy booster shots for the people?

As explained by Leshem, the Israeli government understands that even in a community with a high vaccination rate, if the Delta strain spreads, it will still lead to a higher number of hospitalized patients even though they are fully vaccinated, cases are called breakthrough infections.

In addition, Israeli officials are also concerned by a study by famous Israeli experts showing a “strong impact from immunodeficiency in all age groups” 6 months after vaccination.

The United States and many other countries have also begun to develop or plan a third dose of the Covid-19 vaccine, despite ethical and scientific controversy. The World Health Organization (WHO) warned that the decision to boost vaccination by rich countries will make supplies even more scarce for poor countries desperately in need of a vaccine.

According to Leshem, there are also criticisms within Israel of the research on the risk of immunodeficiency, with some saying that the vaccine’s protection will still be adequate without further injections. However, the professor said there is some data to support the effectiveness of the booster shot. “We assess that the current rate of case growth has slowed in part because of the third dose of the vaccine,” he said.

If the data ultimately determine that a third shot is necessary, the question is whether a fourth or even more is needed. This is “hard to predict”, Leshem says, but notes that the prospect of an endless cycle is hard to avoid.

“The natural cycle of infectious disease is characterized by a new equilibrium. It is difficult to say when, but in a few months or a few years we could get to a stage where the virus spreads within The community mainly causes mild symptoms, most people no longer get worse because they have been vaccinated, been infected or both,” said Leshem.

Either way, both Leshem and Tambyah envision a future where countries must learn to control outbreaks without hurting their economies. “The takeaway is that when the Delta strain appears in the community, the number of infections will increase despite high vaccination rates,” Leshem said.

When that happens, the combination of a vaccine, a strengthened immune system, reliable government information, and individual accountability in the community “could help countries resume relatively normal activity.” despite Covid-19″, the professor said.

“We should focus on protecting the vulnerable, monitoring large outbreaks, increasing immunization, strengthening the health system, and maintaining the physical, psychological and mental health of the population,” he said. Additional Tambyah.

Luster (Follow Nikkei)

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