COVID19 mini-update, September 6, 2020: Israel crosses 1,000 deaths mark; viral load correlates to severity of infection; Dr. Mina on vaccine progress

(1) Israel, where I live, has crossed a grim milestone: total cumulative deaths exceed 1,000 for the first time. Of course, countries like Belgium would say “we should be so lucky”. But remember that Israel’s criteria for coding a death as COVID19 are fairly strict: you can assume nearly every one of these died of and not just with the disease.
We currently have a rampant infection rate, although the case fatality rate is kept low by our “young” population pyramid

Population of Israel 2019 -

plus new infections being disproportionately in the below-30 age brackets

Left/green: women; Right/blue: men

(where mortality risk is very low, as these statistics from other countries show):

I am the last person to make light of this epidemic, but 0.01% in fact means you have a higher risk of being killed in a car accident (lifetime odds: 0.94%) than of COVID19. There was a story the other week about Americans in their thirties thinking they had a 10-20% chance of dying of Corona if they got it. (Sigh of cosmic weariness/un soupir de lassitude cosmique/zucht van eindeloze vermoeidheid/ein Seufzer endloser Ermüdung.)

In Israel too, deaths are primarily among the elderly. The following infographic is for all deaths in the month of July: only 3 out of 210 were under 50

and 85% were age 70 or over, 60% age 80 or over. Via the Hebrew news media, I heard our oldest death with COVID19 was age 102. A patient age 19 with multiple underlying conditions represents the youngest.

I should point out Israel has had a mask mandate for months, and yet it has one of the highest per capita infection rates now. People honestly don’t know how to wear them, and it may actually be that they give people a false sense of security and a false sense of freedom to flout other aspects of social distancing— in particular, the concept of personal space is a novel notion in the Middle East, and this has not improved much during the epidemic. (When making comparisons with the USA, please do keep in mind that this country is very densely populated: for instance, the ‘suburbs’ of Tel-Aviv I live in has the same population density as downtown Chicago.)

A proposal to place lockdowns on our most afflicted cities was canceled under pressure from the Chareidi (“ultra-Orthodox”) parties. Instead, a number of “condition red” communities will be placed under evening curfews.

(2) A few nuggets via Dr. John Campbell’s latest update, a Lancet paper shows a a clear correlation between viral load and severity of an infection

(3) Dr. Michael Mina rounds up the state of vaccines

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