are aggressive vaccination campaigns and mandates helping israel?
they went all in on vaccines, vaccine passports, and mandatory boosters. did it buy them anything?
israel has been at the leading edge of many aggressive covid policies. in the wake of the failure of lockdowns and masking, they undertook early and aggressive vaccine programs. the green pass went wide.
they demanded vaccination, boosters, and predicated most facets of life and livelihood on compliance.
and compliance they got.
israel hit 50% d1 vaccinated in feb 2021 when the US was at 16% and the EU at 5.
the mandates WERE followed in a rich country with a first world healthcare system. if they were going to work anywhere, they would have worked in israel.
perhaps they worked for a time, it’s hard to say definitively from this societal pattern, but there is one thing we can say pretty emphatically:
they are not working anymore.
countries get tricky to compare to one another as they test, count cases, and count deaths differently. they have different ages, demographics, and seasonality. many of these metrics are, themselves, definitional absurdities rooted in over-sensitive tests and bizarrely over inclusive “with” rather than “of” or “for” counting. but they do, for the most part, stay constant. so at least, once you adjust for testing level, they provide comparable data to historical trends.
with this in mind, let’s look at israel and compare this season’s surges to last year’s before there were any vaccines, boosters, or segregation and limitation of the unvaxxed.
given the greater levels of natural, recovered immunity (well documented as MUCH stronger, more durable, and more sterilizing than inoculated immunity) we would, all else equal, expect these rates to drop.
for whatever reason israel is a “double hump” seasonal pattern. they get a surge in late summer/early fall and then again in dec-feb.
much has been made of the huge recent spike in cases. but there was also a huge spike in testing to truly outlandish levels as track and trace was once more attempted and negative tests required for even the vaccinated.
so, we really need to sample rate adjust this to get a clearer picture. i did so using the OWID dataset and normalized testing levels to 10 per day per 1,000 people (this scaling is arbitrary but makes the math easy). in all cases here i will use the 7 day moving avg to minimize day of reporting jitter.
vaccination began at the very end of dec in 2020. it hit 50% one dose by feb of 2021. low season for covid is june. so, if we anchor disease years in june and compare 2020 2021, we should get a sense of how all this worked.
first off, cases really did spike, but it’s closer to 3X last year’s peak than the 11X raw figures.
whether and in what relative ratio this is because omicron is fundamentally more contagious or because it is an OAS/hoskins effect optimized variant taking advantage of vaccine driven antigenic fixation is an interesting and open question. i have not yet found any good way to quantify this. but one thing we can say for sure is that (regardless of cause) covid is more prevalent in the post vaccine world that in the pre, and, tantalizingly, that cases were actually trending lower (as one would expect given even just natural immunity) until omicron hit.
then everything changed.
on a cumulative basis, 2021 is still below 2020. many will likely find this result counter intuitive, but eyeballing area under curve is notoriously difficult. this is why we need to run the math.
(period is from 6/1 to 2/4 of next year in all cumulative charts)
2021 does appear to have a good shot at soon catching 2020.
but what of the issues we’re supposed to care about like hospitalizations?
here, we see much the same pattern but with lower magnitude of divergence.
they were really about the same through mid september, then diverged somewhat, but are also now rapidly closing in the january seasonal surge and seem likely to match or exceed it.
deaths are showing a similar and now familiar pattern.
the divergence was all in oct-dec. then, in jaunary, what everyone was calling “vaccine efficacy” not only disappeared, but inverted.
and gaps are rapidly closing.
when we zoom in to just dec-feb, you can see the radical change.
what was a bit later of a season that was looking more benign suddenly turned into something altogether different.
and this was omicron.
covid looked over in israel. cases were negligible from sept to dec and down on the order of 75% from a year before. hospitalization and death were similar. people thought that this was solved.
but there is a serious issue with leaky vaccines: they rapidly select for not only escape variants, but for variants that are amplified and advantaged by vaccines. this is well known and widely studied.
and these have been extremely leaky vaccines, even case amplification vaccines.
and so you get the nasty OAS variant that is omicron.
there is a sort of interesting natural experiment brewing here.
i plotted aggregate deaths from covid in israel and palestine from 6/1/20 on.
they have been strikingly similar.
the two have different ages, different health systems and very slightly shifted seasonality (that may well be reporting lag as this is day of report, not day of occurrence data) but you’d really be hard pressed to tell them apart.
well, until just now.
clearly, this is quite divergent.
and so is this:
could this be related?
palestine generally lags israel in covid outcomes, so perhaps they will catch up shortly.
cases are starting to surge there.
if they once more move to parity, then it makes the vaccines look like they did little or nothing.
but if they do not, it will pose severe questions for the vaxx booster campaign and the life disrupting green pass and support a claim that they made it worse.
this will be an issue to watch, but, frankly, neither case would seem like an argument for covid vaccination, much less mandate.