90% of Israel's most serious COVID patients are unvaccinated - Health Ministry

Third vaccine doses being administered at the Amigdor Retirement Residence by Magen David Adom (MDA), Jerusalem, August 5, 2021.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)

CDC shows unvaccinated individuals are 11 times more likely to die of COVID-19 * Vaccines likely to be approved for kids 5-11 before the end of the year

The majority of Israel’s most severe COVID-19 patients are not vaccinated, according to the head of Public Health Services Dr. Sharon Alroy-Preis. She noted the trend on the same day the US Centers for Disease Control released new data showing that unvaccinated individuals are 11 times more likely to die of the virus.

“It is important to emphasize that the severely ill patients currently in hospitals are for the most part unvaccinated,” Alroy-Preis said in an interview with Israel’s Channel 12. She added that almost everyone on a ventilator is not vaccinated.

“Out of 175 ventilated patients, two-thirds are not vaccinated at all,” she said.

Moreover, of the 27 patients who were connected to extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) machines at the time of the interview – the majority of them under the age of 60 – 90% were not vaccinated.

“It is a matter of saving lives and not a matter of how many of you catch the virus,” Alroy-Preis said, directing her comment at the roughly 850,000 Israelis who have chosen not to get vaccinated. “You are endangering yourself.”

A WOMAN receives a third dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, at Meuhedet vaccination center in Jerusalem, last week. (credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH90)

Earlier Friday, Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked also shared a slide from the Health Ministry’s situation report on Twitter that showed of 28 patients connected to ventilators, 25 are not vaccinated, calling on everyone to get their first, second or third shot.

“Get vaccinated today, it saves lives,” Shaked wrote. “Simple.”

Already in the month of August, some 65% of the country’s serious cases were the result of unvaccinated people, Health Ministry data showed.

The interview ran on Friday, as US federal health officials published several studies, each suggesting that vaccination offers solid protection in the face of the virus, including the Delta variant.

A first report by the CDC of some 600,000 virus cases in 13 US states and large cities between April and July 2021 showed that individuals who were not fully vaccinated were much more likely to contract coronavirus, develop severe COVID-19 and even die.

Specifically, the study found that during the past two months, unvaccinated individuals were about 4.5 times more likely to get COVID-19, 10 times more likely to be hospitalized, and 11 times more likely to die from the disease than those who were fully vaccinated.

CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said in a White House briefing on Friday that “well over 90% of people who are in the hospital” are unvaccinated.

“We still have more than 10 times the number of people in the hospital who are unvaccinated, compared to vaccinated,” she said.

“The data might be helpful in communicating the real-time impact of vaccines and guiding prevention strategies, such as vaccination and nonpharmacologic interventions,” the CDC wrote in its report.

The study also showed the vaccines to be effective against preventing infection, although it showed that their collective level of effectiveness dropped from 91% to 78%.

US President Joe Biden announced last month that the US would begin providing third shots to all citizens beginning the week of September 20, despite the CDC and Food and Drug Administration not making any formal decision on the matter. Next week, Alroy-Preis and Ron Milo, a professor of systems biology at the Weizmann Institute of Science, Rehovot, are meant to present Israeli data on booster shots to the FDA.

“So far, we have reached 2.7 million boosters, and this is an impressive achievement,” Alroy-Preis said in her interview with Channel 12. “We are a leading country that shows the world that this vaccine saves lives and suppresses serious illness.”

The Health Ministry updated that more than 2.8 million Israelis had received booster shots as of Saturday night.

ISRAEL MADE booster shots widely available on the first of August.

Ahead of the FDA meeting, Israeli data published last month on the non-peer-reviewed medRxiv website on the effectiveness of the booster shot is expected to be published in the New England Journal of Medicine, Health Ministry Director-General Nachman Ash told CNN.

That study found that after 12 days, Israelis who received a third dose were 10 times more protected against serious infection than those who were given only two doses. It also found that booster-vaccinated individuals were 95% protected against infection in general, similar to the original “fresh” vaccine efficacy reported by Pfizer against the original Wuhan or Alpha strain.

A separate US study that looked at vaccine effectiveness against hospitalization in nine states found that protection had waned, especially in people over the age of 75, falling to 76% – the first time a drop had been observed in this data set.

Ash told CNN that the Israeli study on waning antibodies would also be published in the New England Journal of Medicine. That Israeli study showed that people over the age of 60 who received their second jab in March were 60% more protected against infection and 70% more protected against developing severe COVID-19 than those who received the second vaccination in January.

Finally, top US health officials said they believe that Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine could be authorized for children between the ages of five and 11 by the end of October, two sources familiar with the situation said on Friday and Reuters reported.

Top US infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci outlined the timetable during an online town hall meeting attended by thousands of staff members at the National Institutes of Health on Friday, according to one of the sources. A second source familiar with the situation said the FDA anticipated a similar timeline for Pfizer.

If Pfizer submits its application for emergency use authorization by the end of September, and the data support its use, “by the time we get to October, the first couple of weeks of October... the Pfizer product will likely be ready,” Fauci said, according to the source.

Alroy-Preis stressed that Israel would not administer vaccines to younger children until it receives approval from the FDA, unlike its decision to move forward with booster shots before any official authorization.

“It is possible that in January there will already be an approved vaccine for children from the age of five,” she said in her interview with Channel 12. “We in Israel will vaccinate children only after such approval is received.”

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