COVID19 mini-update, January 5, 2020: Third lockdown in Israel; progress in vaccination drive; Dr. John Campbell with a UK update

(1) Facing a steep rise in hospital admissions, Israel is going on a third hard lockdown starting Thursday at midnight (There was a soft not-quite-lockdown in force, which was widely ignored.) There is also the idea that by the time this 10 day-2 week lockdown would end, most people currently vaccinated would have had their 2nd shots.

(2) Via Dr. John Campbell, here is a worldwide vaccination tracker. At present, as a percentage of the population, Israel is the leader with 15%, followed by the United Arab Emirates at 7.7% and Baḥrain at 4.2%. Below is the table sorted by percentage of the population.

I do not know if the vaccination drives in the Arab countries are age-selective: I know the one in the UK is. Here,

About 1,370,000 Israelis received their first dose of the coronavirus vaccine, according to Health Minister Yuli Edelstein. Almost 146,000 of them were inoculated on Monday alone. Approximately 80% of Israelis over the age of 75 have been vaccinated, the CEO of Clalit Health Services [the largest of our four licensed HMOs, NA] told Army Radio Tuesday morning.[…] Maccabi Healthcare Services announced that over 80% of Maccabi members who are at risk have scheduled an appointment to receive the vaccination.

Let me stress: we get this level of response without a mandate of any kind. And these data on the protective effect of the first shot seem pretty encouraging:

Speaking during a briefing on Tuesday, she said that preliminary data shows that after two weeks, some 50% of some 100 people who were vaccinated two weeks ago have developed strong antibodies against the virus. This is up from only between 1% and 2% after one week. Sheba [Medical Center, a.k.a., Tel Hashomer, one of the “Big Four” research and teaching hospitals here] is evaluating the level of antibodies in 400 medical workers who were inoculated at the hospital, but [Dr.] Regev-Yochay said that not everyone has had the vaccine long enough to prove its effectiveness. The hospital will continue to follow these people and more. […]

[…S]he would recommend pushing off administering the second dose of the Pfizer vaccine by a month in order to inoculate more Israelis.“I think it is more important to get more people vaccinated,” said Dr. Gili Regev-Yochay, director of [the] Infectious Disease Epidemiology Unit from Sheba Medical Center in Tel Hashomer, “We are only talking about a month. I don’t think it will cause any damage and the damage from the disease is greater.”

I am personally in two minds about this. Yes, covering another one or two age brackets [50-59, then 40-49] would be nice — but the 60+ bracket accounts for almost 95% of the mortality, so there would seem to be a bigger payoff from getting them 90% protected than from giving 50% protection to more people.

Apropos, when I logged on to my HMO’s website this morning, I got a message that for the time being eligibility for the vaccine would not be expanded. It appears that vaccine stocks on hand are approaching 50% depletion, and the idea is to ensure that everyone who got a 1st shot can receive a 2nd shot. The article puts forward the argument

On a related note, I had suspected for some time that there was no love lost between the former COVID19 czar, Prof. Roni Gamzu (now back to his day job as CEO of Ichilov Medical Center, another of the “Big Four”), and Health Minister Yuli Edelstein. This article confirms it. Pretty much the only nice thing I can say about Edelstein is that he’s an improvement compared to his precedessor Yaakov Litzman— an achievement comparable to being a better musician than my late dog, of blessed memory.

(3) Dr. John Campbell with updates on the situation in the UK and the lockdowns

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