COVID19 micro-update, October 19, 2021: Israel exiting delta wave?

[Continuing to be crazy-busy here, and of course lots of non-COVID news — a brief local sitrep follows below]

First the bad news: we crossed the line of 8,000 dead of COVID, not “with” COVID. That’s the equivalent of almost 300,000 on a US-sized population. Yes, it could have been much worse — but that is, of course, cold comfort to those affected.

Now the good news: it increasingly looks like the worst is over. According to the Ministry of Health Dashboard, updated at 17:40, our severe COVID19 cases are now down to just 354, less than half what we had at the peak of the delta wave. When we put the number of daily new severe cases in 3-month perspective, we’re looking at less than a quarter of peak:

Daily deaths are now down to single digits for some days running now. At the peak of this wave, we had around thirty a day; our peak day in the alpha wave, January 24, we had 76 dead.

Severe cases are a lagging indicator, deaths even more so. Moreover, as beds in COVID19 wards increasingly free up, the population gradually becomes dominated by long-term cases. A source: “Nearly all the severe COVID beds at [redacted] are unvaccinated in their 40s and 50s now. Because of their youngish age, they tend to eventually make it, but they stay in the ward for weeks.”

Over the past four weeks, four vaccinated people under the age of 60 succumbed to the virus, and another four who died had been vaccinated more than six months earlier, compared with 46 unvaccinated people who died.

For new confirmed cases, it is a much starker picture. (The green line is a 7-day moving average.)

Percentage of positive tests:

The reproductive number dropped below 1 a month ago and has been at or below 0.8 since September 15.

Yesterday, we had 1,486 new positive cases. The age distribution below (averaged over the last month) speaks for itself though (left=female, right=male):

Yes, 55.8% of new cases are under age 20. New cases in the most vulnerable (60+) age group are just 4.7% of the total. (Vaccination in that age bracket is close to 90%, with booster shots just short of 80%. In the “general sector”, i.e., neither the “Arab sector” nor the “ultra-Orthodox sector”, the percentages are still higher.)

In our towns and communities “traffic lights” system, only six “red” lights are left, one of them a Beduin tribe, three others Arab or Beduin villages, the final two Jewish settlements in the disputed territories (“West Bank”).

We must not cry victory prematurely. But this is ahead of the most optimistic projections I had seen in an internal report. And remember: we didn’t lock down, and only applied very limited restrictions. The booster shot campaign (our medical system was the first to report the drop in antibodies and to implement a booster campaign) may not have been necessary for everyone, but they definitely made a difference in the most vulnerable age groups.

Hospital staff are breathing a sigh of relief, as they were dreading going into a “double whammy” winter (seasonal respiratory diseases + COVID).

What percentage of the population has “natural immunity”? Unlike most countries, we have always treated recovery from documented COVID infection as equivalent to double vaccination. About 13.7% in the “general sector” are such “machlimim” (recoverees), compared to a whopping 31% of the chareidi/”ultra-Orthodox” sector.

Now could we be needing a fourth shot? We’ve apparently stockpiled them just in case, but there are several 3-shot regimes in local use already:

[Hebrew U. and Hadassah Hospital virologist, Prof. Rivka Abulafia-Lapid] gave the example of the human papillomavirus vaccine, which is given in Israel at birth, at two months and at six months; the hepatitis B vaccine, which is given at birth, one month and six months; and the rotavirus vaccine, which is given at two months, four months and 18 months. In each of these cases the third shot confers long-lasting protection, she said.

[…] “My estimate is that once we have three vaccines, protection will last for a year,” said Abulafia-Lapid, a senior doctor at Hadassah Medical Center and part of the Hebrew University’s faculty. “There should be good memory in the body for around a year that can fight off COVID infection in many cases.”

And, are you listening, Biden puppeteers? We have no vaccination mandate (not even for medical staff). In fact, I am certain we would have had lower vaccination rates with a vaccination rate. Leaving aside that such a mandate is almost certainly unconstitutional, from a pragmatic viewpoint it is classic verschlimmbesseren (priceless German word for “making things worse by ‘improving’ them).

Also, the HMO staff and IDF medics on reserve duty who are doing the jabbing are clearly under strict instructions to screen for possible immune overreactions, and if people get a non-routine reaction to the first shot, the second is not “pushed” on them.

But as Jordan Peterson was saying in one segment of his talk the other day, the response to COVID (once the initial shock and uncertainty wore off ) has taken on aspects of religion for some people, not of pragmatic crisis management. COVID will go away one day, or (most likely) dwindle to one of many seasonal respiratory ailments. Normalizing a Chinese-style approach will cause long-term damage to democracy and the rule of law.

7 thoughts on “COVID19 micro-update, October 19, 2021: Israel exiting delta wave?

  1. If you have time it might be interesting to compare & contrast the late summer waves in the UK, Israel and Japan.

    Japan in particular is weird. Huge bump up in cases then an equally precipitous fall with no obvious cause for the fall. Yes there was some tightening of recommendations, particularly regarding nighttime drinking but it seems implausible that that is the cause of the drop.

    The UK on the other hand is seeing a persistently high number of cases but not the same rise in hospitalization/deaths

  2. Does Israel have any data on the numbers of people catching Covid after they had already had it? So we could compare unvax, vaxed and natural immunity.

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