Covid: the long haul

If you want a peek into the future, then Israel is the place to look. It was the first country to get mass vaccination done. And now the FT reports:

Having won early access to supplies of the BioNTech/Pfizer jab in exchange for sharing nationwide data on how mass vaccination drives affect the pandemic, Israel is a closely watched indicator for where well-inoculated developed economies are heading.

After months of euphoria, the data out of Israel is troubling. The Israeli ministry of health has twice revised downwards the long-term efficacy of the jabs — from the advertised 94 per cent protection from asymptomatic infections against the then-dominant Alpha variant, to as low as 64 per cent against the now-dominant Delta variant.

As new infections soared, so did the long tail of hospitalisations. Even though the unvaccinated were five to six times as likely to end up seriously ill, the vaccine’s protection was waning fastest for the oldest — the most vulnerable — who got their first jabs as early as December.

So far, 775,000 people have taken their third shots and doctors say they can see antibody counts rising measurably within days of the jab. From this weekend, people over 50 will be offered a third shot.

And then a fourth, and a fifth…

We’re in for a long haul.