How Israel Got Hit Hard by the Delta Variant—but Rode It Out

Oct. 12 2021

Earlier this year, the Jewish state remained far ahead of most of the world in its coronavirus-vaccination rate, having been the first country to acquire the vaccine, and having employed an efficient distribution mechanism. But the disease’s delta variant nonetheless led to a spike in cases and hospitalization that raised fears of a return to the worst days of the pandemic. Arieh Kovler explains why things never got so bad:

In the last few weeks, the COVID-19 picture has completely changed in Israel. Israel suffered from a delta wave that had the highest new daily coronavirus cases per capita of any country in the world in September. Despite what you might think, Israel no longer has a high percentage of vaccinated people compared to other industrialized countries. It was still just about true in July, but now, in October, it just isn’t true anymore.

When the delta variant began spreading in Israel among highly vaccinated populations, it looked a lot like it might have evolved to escape the immunity that the vaccines induced. . . . But it turned out that delta wasn’t “evading the vaccines” at all. People who’d been recently vaccinated were still well protected against the variant, but vaccine effectiveness waned over time against any variant of the coronavirus. Israel had vaccinated most of its adult population by March, and most of its vulnerable people by late January, making it one of the first countries to test the effectiveness of vaccine immunity over time.

The country did reintroduce some mitigations, like public masking . . . and modest limits on events. But mostly it pinned its hope on booster doses of the Pfizer vaccine.

Israel initially offered boosters only to those over sixty, but within a few weeks they were available to anyone who’d been vaccinated at least five months previously. . . . The results were dramatic. The booster dose seemed to produce ten times the antibodies of the second dose. This also translated into a dramatic drop in infection among those who received it.

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Read more at Hat Tip

More about: Coronavirus, Israeli society, Medicine

 

Will Tensions Rise between the U.S. and Israel?

Unlike his past many predecessors, President Joe Biden does not have a plan for solving the Israel-Palestinian conflict. Moreover, his administration has indicated its skepticism about renewing the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran. John Bolton nevertheless believes that there could be a collision between the new Benjamin Netanyahu-led Israeli government and the Biden White House:

In possibly his last term, Netanyahu’s top national-security priority will be ending, not simply managing, Iran’s threat. This is infinitely distant from Biden’s Iran policy, which venerates Barrack Obama’s inaugural address: “we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist.”

Tehran’s fist is today otherwise occupied, pummeling its own people. Still, it will continue menacing Israel and America unless and until the internal resistance finds ways to fracture the senior levels of Iran’s regular military and the Revolutionary Guards. Netanyahu undoubtedly sees Iran’s growing domestic turmoil as an opportunity for regime change, which Israel and others can facilitate. Simultaneously, Jerusalem can be preparing its military and intelligence services to attack Tehran’s nuclear program, something the White House simply refuses to contemplate seriously. Biden’s obsession with reviving the disastrous 2015 nuclear deal utterly blinds the White House to the potential for a more significant victory.

To make matters worse, Biden has just created a Washington-based position at the State Department, a “special representative for Palestinian affairs,” that has already drawn criticism in Israel both for the new position itself and for the person named to fill it. Advocated as one more step toward “upgrading” U.S. relations with the Palestinian Authority, the new position looks nearly certain to become the locus not of advancing American interests regarding the failed Authority, but of advancing the Authority’s interests within the Biden administration.

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Read more at 19FortyFive

More about: Benjamin Netanyahu, Iran, Joe Biden, U.S.-Israel relationship