Introduction by GA: Israel struggles to understand its chaotic COVID-19 situation. The country voluntarily decided to mass vaccinate itself. Israel is clearly winning in the vaccination contest, yet the numbers of COVID-19 cases and deaths aren’t encouraging to say the least. As for this morning, Israel’s R number is back at 1. The Times of Israel produced a grim audit yesterday; despite Israel vaccinating almost a third of its population “Israel has been reporting some 7,000 new infections a day, one of the highest rates in the developed world. Nearly 5,000 people have died, more than a quarter of them in January alone.”
How is it possible that transmission in Israel is so high despite the ‘success’ of mass vaccination? Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu admitted this week that the “British mutation accounts for 80% of all cases in Israel.” The most obvious question in that regard is how do we explain the successful Aliya of that esoteric mutant especially considering that air travel is almost non-existent? In my recent writings I pointed at a clear correlation between mass vaccination and mutants (here and here). I am obviously not the only one who detects such a parallel. Monitoring the Israeli MSM, I see the question repeating itself. However, the country’s medical establishment and politicians, together with internet giants, work hard to supress the question and silence those who dare to utter any dissent.
Earlier this week I watched an Israeli news interview with the head of a COVID Ward in Tel Aviv’s biggest hospital. When asked about the spread of foreign mutants and the lack of improvement in cases and deaths despite large numbers being vaccinated, he was quick to answer, “why do you ask me, I am just a doctor.”
Israel is once again in political turmoil with an upcoming election. The success of the vaccination campaign is now a sensitive political matter which will have a direct impact on Netanyahu’s fate. Israelis aren’t fools and many of them understand the parameters that determine the current situation. They grasp the possibility that they are subject to a political ploy, with their personal and communal health held hostage by a compromised political establishment.
In its desperate attempt to vaccinate the entire population, health services are offering vaccination to anyone aged 16 and above. But the Israelis are reluctant. According to Israeli reports the vaccination centers are empty. The more pressure mounted by the government (including threats to future employment and personal freedom), the more suspicious Israelis become. They can see that the COVID situation in Israeli-Arab communities is improving despite their defiance of the Pfizer/Israeli experiment, while some almost entirely vaccinated Jewish cities struggle with a relatively high number of cases. A brief examination of the Israeli COVID situation reveals that the number of cases and deaths grew exponentially since the beginning of mass vaccination and the third lockdown.
In the light of the above, the following is a translation of a week-old Israeli MSM interview with Prof. Eran Segal, a leading Israeli scientist and computational biologist at the Weizmann Institute of Science.
In the interview, Prof. Segal thinks loudly about that which most Israeli scientists prefer to keep to themselves.
Prof. Eran Segal of the Weizmann Institute commented on Gideon Oko’s (103FM 28/01/2021) program on the effectiveness of vaccines and the impact of the British mutant. “We witness a virus that behaves differently”
The third (Israeli) Lockdown is in progress, the mass vaccination campaign continues, and yet there is no significant reduction in COVID-19’s cases and deaths.
Prof. Eran Segal from the Weizmann Institute spoke today (Thursday) with Gideon Oko on 103FM about the issue and commented on the effectiveness of vaccines and the impact of the British mutant on the data.
Would it be fair to say that we all expected a significant drop in numbers this week?
“True, I agree. We were on the rise last week, we estimated that this week we will see a change in the trend. I think we are seeing a change in the trend, that is, the R number has already dropped to the 0.9 region and we are 20% away from the peak in cases. However, the number of new critical patients has remained stable and we have also been stuck on the same number for two weeks.”
Do you know how to explain why this is so?
“When we discuss possible scenarios and theoretical models, some assumptions always come into play. We know what were our set of assumptions regarding the British mutant that slowed down our predicted progress. We (also) took vaccines into account. The set of assumptions is incorrect. I mean, the vaccine may not be as effective as we thought, but we don’t know it for certain (yet).”
Could it be that the vaccine is less effective than we thought?
“I think it cannot be said, we have to wait and analyze the data. We have to give it more time as we do not know yet the impact of the second dose. We do not expect to see its effect yet. In the meantime, it can be said that the impact of the vaccine isn’t exactly what we hoped for but this may be due to many mistakes in our interpretations.
There could be differences between those (populations) who take the vaccines. In the red COVID areas people are less likely to get vaccinated.”
Maybe that’s why Dr. Sharon Alrai-Price (The head of public health services at the Ministry of Health) said today that they are examining the possibility of giving a third dose of vaccine if it turns out that the vaccine in its current form is not effective against the South African mutation? Is that based on a hypothesis or knowledge?
“This is something preliminary. Pfizer announced that they were considering a third dose and that there might be an update to the vaccine that would also tackle the threat of the South African mutant more effectively. ‘There were reports from the UK that it may be possible that the South African mutant is more dangerous. It could be that the vaccine is still as effective as we thought, but the reason the number of serious patients is not decreasing at the rate we hoped could also stem from this assumption.’
Are we expected to face the same COVID measures in 2021?
“The Coronavirus will be here for a long time to come even if the vaccines turn out to be as effective as promised.”
We tend to believe that in March/April we will return to a certain normal routine.
“There is a lot of uncertainty but it is too early to say… there is no doubt that the British mutant (as well as other mutations) introduced an element of unpredictability, (but all of that may change) if the vaccine turns out to be effective after the second dose. At the moment we struggle with the vaccination of certain sectors. In the Arab sector we covered only 66% of aged 60 and above, 76% in the ultra-Orthodox sector. These numbers need to be raised.”
Do you expect to start to see a decline next week?
“We currently expect a decline because we are already seeing a drop in cases that will be followed by a decline in critically ill patients. Also, the impact of the vaccines are starting to be seen and we all hope they will indeed be effective.”