Monday, February 15, 2021

On the effects of COVID vaccination, Israel is the bellwether


 - by New Deal democrat

I’m beginning to see some clickbait reports of COVID diagnoses after two doses of the vaccine, together with breathless reporting by some RW’ers and LW’ers that the vaccines are not very effective. I’m here to tell you to beware these headlines and reports.

For example, here is a report out of Oregon that 4 people were diagnosed with COVID after their second doses of vaccine. Sounds scary, right? But if you read carefully, you see that while the *diagnosis* was made more than 14 days after the 2nd dose of the vaccine. That doesn’t mean that the *infection* occurred more than 14 days after administration of the 2nd dose, which would be more significant. In other words, it is perfectly likely that the infection started before the 2nd dose took full effect.

Further, of the 4 cases reported, two were mild - and two were completely asymptomatic. None of them were hospitalized, let alone died.

Fortunately, within the next 30 to 60 days the world is going to get some excellent data on the real effects of vaccination. That’s because Israel is on track to have its entire adult population fully vaccinated by that time.

The population of Israel (including children) is roughly 9 million. So far, 6.5 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine (which requires 2 doses) have been administered. At the current rate, in about 8 weeks close about 14 million doses will have been administered, meaning the entire adult population will be vaccinated. In 10 weeks the vaccines should have taken full effect.

Here is where things stand in terms of new infections, deaths, and total vaccines administered in Israel:

If all goes well, new deaths should continue to trend down, and be close to zero in about 10 weeks. That would be a spectacular result. If it doesn’t happen, then we will have to see where there might be problems.

By the way, don’t assume that the recent decline in new infections has to do with vaccination, because there have been similar declines pretty much everywhere in the northern hemisphere:

It very much looks like there was a spike caused by get-together over the winter holidays, which has now (relatively speaking!) ebbed. Note that the US is the only country with a secondary spike that just happens to exactly coincide with 2 weeks after Thanksgiving.

To return to my main point, in the meantime, Israel has performed a study of 1.5 million people, half of which were vaccinated. Here is the spreadsheet of infections, hospitalizations, and deaths for those vaccinated:

After 14 days after the 2nd dose, there were ZERO deaths among those under 60, and 4 deaths among those over 60. Again, it’s not clear if *any* of the *infections* actually took place that far out.

All of the available evidence so far is that these are *excellent* vaccines, but they don’t make the recipients, especially those over 60, “bulletproof.” Until there is herd immunity, older people in particular should continue to wear masks, and avoid indoor dining (where the new very infectious mutations can be very efficiently spread by younger people who are not yet vaccinated and are not wearing masks).