Science.org: A grim warning from Israel: Vaccination blunts, but does not defeat Delta — “Vaccines Work, but not well enough”
Are the Trump vaccines* not “working”? Poor data analysis/stratification coupled to worse reporting is a public health disaster. See discussion below.
by MEREDITH WADMAN, 2021-09-16
With early vaccination and outstanding data, country is the world’s real-life COVID-19 lab.
...Israel has among the world’s highest levels of vaccination for COVID-19, with 78% of those 12 and older fully vaccinated, the vast majority with the Pfizer vaccine. Yet the country is now logging one of the world’s highest infection rates, with nearly 650 new cases daily per million people. More than half are in fully vaccinated people, underscoring the extraordinary transmissibility of the Delta variant and stoking concerns that the benefits of vaccination ebb over time.
...“I watch [Israeli data] very, very closely because it is some of the absolutely best data coming out anywhere in the world,” says David O’Connor, a viral sequencing expert at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. “Israel is the model,” agrees Eric Topol, a physician-scientist at Scripps Research. “It’s pure mRNA [messenger RNA] vaccines. It’s out there early. It’s got a very high level population [uptake]. It’s a working experimental lab for us to learn from.”
...People vaccinated in January had a 2.26 times greater risk for a breakthrough infection than those vaccinated in April. (Potential confounders include the fact that the very oldest Israelis, with the weakest immune systems, were vaccinated first.)
At the same time, cases in the country, which were scarcely registering at the start of summer, have been doubling every week to 10 days since then, with the Delta variant responsible for most of them. They have now soared to their highest level since mid-February, with hospitalizations and intensive care unit admissions beginning to follow. How much of the current surge is due to waning immunity versus the power of the Delta variant to spread like wildfire is uncertain.
...What is clear is that “breakthrough” cases are not the rare events the term implies. As of 15 August, 514 Israelis were hospitalized with severe or critical COVID-19, a 31% increase from just 4 days earlier. Of the 514, 59% were fully vaccinated. Of the vaccinated, 87% were 60 or older. “There are so many breakthrough infections that they dominate and most of the hospitalized patients are actually vaccinated,” says Uri Shalit, a bioinformatician at the Israel Institute of Technology (Technion) who has consulted on COVID-19 for the government. “One of the big stories from Israel [is]: ‘Vaccines work, but not well enough.’”
Yet boosters are unlikely to tame a Delta surge on their own, says Dvir Aran, a biomedical data scientist at Technion. In Israel, the current surge is so steep that “even if you get two-thirds of those 60-plus [boosted], it’s just gonna give us another week, maybe 2 weeks until our hospitals are flooded.”... Aran’s message for the United States and other wealthier nations considering boosters is stark: “Do not think that the boosters are the solution.”
WIND: reports like this could easily becomes sound-bite nuggets for anti-vaxxers*, as in “the vaccines don’t work, so why bother”. But at-risk groups need to understand two things which are not contradictory: (1) vaccination so far greatly reduces mortality and hospitalization, and (2) the protection fades quickly, and risk rises again.
Consider who is most likely to be infected by COVID: (1) the elderly/weak/obese, and (2) the unvaccinated (presumably on average mostly young/healthy).
In general, the elderly/weak fail to mount strong immune response with any vaccine (COVID or other). Yet these most-at-risk people were the first to be vaccinated, and so now their resistance to COVID has declined substantially. And it might have been nil or weak even after vaccination.
So it is to be expected that a significant number of the elderly/weak will become infected even after “vaccination”, and that many will die. But if it is just the elderly/weak/earliest vaccinated, how to explain the steep surge?
The surges in Israel and elsewhere imply that the vaccines are allowing orders of magnitude more breakthrough infections—if they were “rare”, COVID would have long since died down. So it feels like we are being lied to, it feels like a psyops campaign, and it feels like the government is setting us up for a disaster, while scapegoating the unvaccinated.
The argument for booster shots is based on the presumption that there was some immunie system response initially, and a booster will greatly strengthen that. But will boosters do much for those who responded poorly to begin with, those most at risk? At this date, the evidence is poor that boosters are the right approach.
The non-stratified (hence incompetent) data reporting is not explaining which cohort(s) are being infected with bad outcomes. Perhaps the data stratification insights exist, but it’s not discussed as it ought. Could it be that something truly scary being hidden from the public, such as vaccinated people across stratifications are all being hit? Or is it just experts and reporters incompetent at data analysis and/or communication?
We need competent stratified data show what the “vaccines” are actually accomplishing across all cohorts. The data must be stratified by age and morbidities and reported accurately in a timely manner so that meaningful insights can be had. Otherwise, we cannot know if the surge in severe outcomes in vaccinated people is a problem in high-risk cohorts, or a general cross-sectional issue, which would be a terrible prospect.
First, public health experts must prove with stratified data that breakthrough infections are limited in scope. At this point, I find that very hard to believe, but there is a lot to be learned around who is at risk. Is it just the high-risk groups, or is something more insidious going on?
The prophylactic therapeutics commonly referred to as vaccines offer partial protection and fade quickly over time. High-risk individuals should assume protection fades over time, and take precautions accordingly.
* I am neither pro nor anti-vax, speaking in terms of some viciuos “hammer down the nail that stands up” policy. I am for personal choice that evaluates the specific individual’s medical situation. And vaccines might prove to be our undoing.