Because most philosophies that frown on reproduction don't survive.

Friday, September 03, 2021

Israeli Data: Yes, The COVID Vaccines Are Still Working

I've heard a piece of conventional wisdom going around that with the delta variant, etc. the COVID vaccines just aren't working anymore.  Ironically, this seems to be a view endorsed both by those who want more actions taken to prevent spread (masks, shutdowns, etc.) and those who think that the vaccines, masks, etc. are mostly useless.  

Is this true?

It's possible to find out.  Israel is the example which many of these claims are being made about, because they have a very high vaccination rate and yet they still have a certain number of people who are seriously ill, most of them vaccinated.  There's an Israeli dashboard which provides national health data on COVID patients and vaccinations.  And someone has done a great job of downloading their data and breaking it down by vaccinated/unvaccinated and by age group.  The results underline the effectiveness of the vaccines.

As has been noted, there are more people severely ill with COVID in Israel who have been vaccinated than who haven't been vaccinated, but that's in the context of a population which is 79% vaccinated.  If you break down the number of severe cases of COVID by the number of people who are and aren't vaccinated, what you see is that 16.4 unvaccinated people per 100,000 are sick with severe COVID while only 5.3 vaccinated people per 100,000 are.  Said another way, at this total population level, getting the vaccine reduced your chances of having severe COVID by 67.5%

But it's actually much better than that.  It turns out (unsurprisingly) that vaccination rates are not the same for different ages of people.  This means that on average the fully vaccinated group is older than the unvaccinated group.  And we already know that older people are much more likely to have bad cases of COVID.  So the author breaks down vaccination status and severe cases by age:

Of the people under 30 with severe COVID (seven people out of 2.5 million), none were vaccinated.  So for young people, you're not very likely to get severe COVID, but the vaccination reduces the chances to basically zero.

Among older people, where COVID is particularly dangerous, we see a huge effect from the vaccines.  293 Israelis aged 70+ had severe COVID as of Sept 2nd out of a population of 768k.  (I'm getting these additional details from the full Sept 2 data sheet available for download at the end of the linked article or here.)  44% of those 293 were from among the 4% of Israelis over 70 who have not been vaccinated.  Israelis over 70 were 90% less likely to have a severe case of COVID than unvaccinated people of the same age.  

Even with the delta variant on the loose, even for people who are highly at risk, the vaccines are 90%+ effective in preventing people from getting severe cases of COVID.  


Agnes said...

Love your analysis! Thanks!

Michael said...

did the Israeli data say how they define "Fully Vaccinated"? In the CDC data, one is "fully vaccinated" only two weeks after the second shot. Therefore, post-vaccine complications would be categorized as "unvaccinated" (assuming the patient also tested positive.)

see footnote "¶" at