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

Iran’s Dangerous Dream of a Triple Alliance with Russia and China

Aug. 16 2022

Unlike Hamas, which merely receives support from the Islamic Republic, Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ)—with which Israel engaged in a short round of fighting last week—is more or less under its direct control. In fact, the recent hostilities began with a series of terrorist attacks launched by PIJ from Samaria, which might in turn have been a response to Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei’s call “to open a new front in the West Bank against the Zionist enemy.” Amir Taheri writes:

In Gaza, the Islamic Republic has invested heavily in promoting Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad. . . . Islamic Jihad is in a minority in Gaza, hence the attempt by Tehran to help it create a base in the West Bank.

Reliable sources in Baghdad say that [Iran’s expeditionary and terrorist paramilitary] the Quds Force has been “transiting” significant quantities of arms and cash via Iraq to Jordan, to be smuggled to the West Bank. The Jordanian authorities say they are aware of these “hostile activities.” King Abdullah himself has publicly called on Iran to cease “destabilizing activities.”

But such schemes, Taheri explains, are part of a larger strategic vision of creating a grand anti-Western alliance even while engaging in nuclear negotiations with the U.S. and Europe:

Last month, Khamenei praised Vladimr Putin for his invasion of Ukraine. And this month, China’s ambassador to Iran, Chang Hua, praised the Islamic Republic for supporting China in “asserting its sovereignty” over Taiwan.

It is clear that some dangerous pipe-dreamers in Beijing, Moscow, and Tehran have fallen for the phantasmagoric vision of “three great powers” banding together and with help from “the rest,” that is to say, the so-called Third World . . . to destroy an international system created by the “corrupt and decadent.”

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Read more at Gatestone

More about: China, Iran, Islamic Jihad, Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, Russia, West Bank