COVID19 mini-update, January 4, 2020: India approves Oxford-AstraZeneca and local Bharatech vaccines; Israel update; UK lockdown; Instapundit; Dr. Seheult meets Dr. Campbell

(1) mRNA vaccines like Pfizer and Moderna are not practical options in countries like India, because of their cost and the need for very low temperature storage and transport chains. The more traditional Oxford-Astrazeneca vaccine is more attractive in that regard; now India’s regulators have approved both that vaccine and a homegrown one developed by Bharatech.

(2) Israel has thus far given first Pfizer doses about 1.25 million people, and may have to start slowing down as vaccine stocks get depleted. (The HMOs are setting aside 2nd shots for everybody who got the first.) Based on data from, in 2019 we had 1.392 million people age in the eligible age bracket 60 and over. Subtract about a quarter million doses for healthcare workers in the broadest sense, plus about 100,000 doses to younger people. (Part of these are presumably high-risk patients, such as a colleague of mine who is ten years younger but a cancer survivor; others are”use it or lose it” injections at the end of a vaccination shift, where the staff sensibly will inject all comers rather than discard the vaccines — which need to be used within six hours after defrosting.) Still, this means that we appear to have covered 60-70% of our 60+ population.

Meanwhile, Israel’s health minister, Yuli Edelstein (frequent readers will know I do not have a high opinion of him) insists that our country needs another 2-week hard lockdown “to avoid Italian situations”. Giving him the benefit of the doubt here, it may be that this enables people in the most vulnerable groups to get their 2nd shot and have 90% protection, give or take. Do keep in mind that age groups 60+ accounts for a whopping 94% (!) of mortality here; just vaccinating those adequately should put a very serious dent in morbidity and mortality. If we can stretch the coverage window down to age 50 (he said self-servingly ;)) one might even be able to consider a herd immunity strategy for the remaining younger people.

To anybody abroad sitting on the fence about whether having the shot is worth their while, I might suggest: have a look at our morbidity and mortality figures in a month. Those should be decaying rapidly by then if the vaccine is anywhere near as effective as the Phase III trials indicated.

(3) British PM Boris Johnson just announced a lockdown. The Daily Telegraph has the details.

(4) The great blog-patriarch Instapundit had COVID over Christmas. He’s a bit of a “smart health nut” and keeps in good shape, and started taking Vitamin D and zinc supplements early in the pandemic. All this may have helped: he reported symptoms on the order of a really nasty cold, but got over it fairly quickly. His wife never caught it: then again, a recent paper indicated an ‘attack rate’ for household transmission of 17% (about 1 in 6). I know several couples in our social circle where one spouse got COVID and the other either stayed asymptomatic or didn’t get infected at all— but this is by no means universally so.

The great science fiction author David Weber also got COVID — but a rather more severe case, consistent with older age and less favorable health baseline. Refua shlema (speedy healing).

(5) Two educators I have featured here often, pulmonologist and medical school professor Dr. John Seheult and retired nursing school lecturer and textbook author John Campbell, here have a long video discussion with each other.

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