About a week after Israel started administering the second dose, a sharp decline in cases was observed for those aged 60 years and above, who were prioritised for vaccination
Israel administered 63 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for every 100 residents, the highest vaccination rate in the world as of February 6. The U.S. ranks a distant second at 12 doses per 100 residents, whereas India’s rate was even lower at 0.4 per 100. On December 20, 2020, Israel began vaccinating and prioritised those aged 60 years and above. By mid-January, the number of new COVID-19 cases and related hospitalisations of those aged over 60 declined rapidly, possibly due to the vaccination drive, according to a research study by Israeli scientists*. Moreover, the study ruled out other factors such as lockdowns for the drop in cases, lending further credence to the positive impact of the vaccination campaign.
Over 88% of residents aged 60 or above (in light blue) received the first dose, and 78% got both doses (in dark blue), as of February 6. Among those aged 59 or below, 37% received the first dose (in light yellow) while only 16% got both doses (in dark yellow).
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Bending the curve
About a week after Israel started administering the second dose, cases reduced among both age groups, with the decline much sharper for those aged 60 years and above, who were prioritised for vaccination. Two weeks after the second dose, moderate or severe cases of COVID-19-related hospitalisation fell significantly for those aged 60 and above, while for those aged 59 and below, such hospitalisations increased. These results could possibly be attributed to the vaccination campaign.
Negating other causes
The study compared the number of cases and hospitalisations during two time periods — following the second lockdown in Israel on September 18, 2020 and the third on January 8, 2021. A sharper decline in cases among those aged 60 or above, compared to younger residents, was observed only post the third lockdown, when the second dose was introduced. The study also found that the decline in cases among older residents occurred earlier in Israeli cities, where the vaccination drive kicked in earlier and later in cities where the campaign started later.
*Source: “Patterns of COVID-19 pandemic dynamics…”, Rossman, Segal, et al.