A new Israeli study shows that Israelis who were vaccinated against the coronavirus are protecting not only themselves but those who haven’t been vaccinated as well.
The study, which has not yet been peer-reviewed, evaluated the medical data of 223 Israeli communities, which showed that vaccinated adults protect the communities’ children and unvaccinated adults.
The effect is quite dramatic. Every 20-point increase in the vaccination rate in a community results in a 50% less risk of children testing positive for the virus.
“These results provide observational evidence that vaccination not only protects individual vaccinees but also provides cross-protection to unvaccinated individuals in the community,” wrote researchers from the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology and Maccabi Healthcare Services.
According to an article in the science journal Nature last week, actual herd immunity without vaccinations may not even be possible.
“We’re moving away from the idea that we’ll hit the herd-immunity threshold and then the pandemic will go away for good,” said epidemiologist Lauren Ancel Meyers, executive director of the University of Texas at Austin COVID-19 Modeling Consortium. “The vaccine will mean that the virus will start to dissipate on its own.”
Jonathan Gershoni, a virologist from Tel Aviv University, says that there are many factors preventing Israel from attaining herd immunity. “But the attainability of herd immunity is neither important nor relevant. We should focus on whether the current conditions and some reasonable efforts would be sufficient to gain control of the pandemic and lead normal lives.”
“We know that coronavirus morbidity in children and teens is less severe and many who are infected don’t suffer symptoms. If this was the case for the entire population, Israel could operate normally. If theoretically everyone over 40 was vaccinated, we would reach immunity of about 50 percent. While it is still far from herd immunity (herd immunity is reached at 70-80 percent), it protects the at-risk population.”
Prof. Ran Balicer, who heads Israel’s Magen Yisrael, the medical experts’ advisory panel to the coronavirus cabinet, says that “even without reaching herd immunity, the more the number of daily confirmed cases decreases, the higher the effect it has on indirect protection. When 60 percent of the population is vaccinated, it’s enough for the infection rate to go down. This, in addition to wearing masks and social distancing, are enough to curb infection rates and reopen the economy.”
“We see a dramatic decline in infections within communities, which has high vaccination rates, and we anticipate that this will gradually expand.”
(YWN Israel Desk – Jerusalem)