Israeli vaccination campaign leads to plunge in severe COVID-19 cases

Israeli vaccination campaign leads to plunge in severe COVID-19 cases
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A mass vaccination campaign in Israel that targeted older residents led to a steep drop-off in the number of coronavirus cases requiring patients to go on a ventilator, a hopeful sign as other nations ramp up vaccine access and distribution.

A new report published Friday in the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report found the number of older patients in Israel requiring ventilation to treat COVID-19 plummeted beginning in the middle of January.

Before the vaccination campaign started, about six times as many patients over the age of 70 required ventilation to assist breathing as those under the age of 50. By the middle of February, when more than 8 in 10 older Israelis had been vaccinated, that ratio dropped to just a 2 to 1 margin.

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The drop in the number of older patients who required ventilation began in mid-January, about the time the first people to receive a vaccine in Israel began getting their second doses.

“Considering the vaccination rate and the expected vaccine efficacy, this study provides preliminary evidence at the population level for the reduction in risk for severe COVID-19 as manifested by need for mechanical ventilation, after vaccination with the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine,” CDC researchers wrote.

Israel, with a population of 9 million, has vaccinated more than 91 percent of its residents over the last two months, a higher percentage than any other nation in the world. About 20 percent of Americans have received at least one shot, according to Our World in Data.

Vaccine rates are highest in the wealthiest nations. Just 10 of the world’s richest countries account for more than 75 percent of the shots administered, the United Nations said last week. More than 100 countries have yet to receive any vaccine doses.

The World Health Organization and Gavi, the global vaccine alliance, are racing to deliver vaccine shipments to low- and middle-income nations. This week, the first shipments of AstraZeneca vaccine arrived in Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire.

Leaders at the Group of Seven meeting last week pledged billions more for the COVAX initiative, which will be the largest mass vaccination campaign launched in global history. President BidenJoe BidenFord to bolster electric vehicle production in multi-billion dollar push Protesters demonstrate outside Manchin's houseboat over opposition to reconciliation package Alabama eyes using pandemic relief funds on prison system MORE committed $4 billion to the initiative, including an immediate $2 billion infusion, that he said would convince other nations to chip in.