Israel leads the world in the race to vaccinate against the SARS-CoV-2 virus, in what some are calling the world’s leading Covid-19 vaccine experiment. 64 doses of vaccine per 100 people have been administered there, far more than in any other nation.
Israel’s strategy has focused on protecting the most vulnerable first. By 6 February 2021, 80% of the population over 60 had been vaccinated, compared to less than half that percentage among those under 60 – see chart below.
These significantly different vaccination rates among different age groups offer a glimpse of what vaccines can achieve against the virus.
Since 20 December 2020, when Israel began vaccinating, severe Covid-19 hospital admissions have more than doubled among those under 60, who were not prioritised for vaccination. However, among those 60+, who were first in line for jabs, severe hospital admissions have risen by less than 50%, less than half the rate of those under 60, despite their greater average vulnerability – see chart below.
So Israel’s vaccination programme appears to be keeping people out of hospital. Since 20 January 2021, hospitalisation of severe cases among heavily vaccinated 60+ group has fallen by around 30%. Among the less vaccinated under 60s, hospitalisation of severe cases has risen by more than 30%. The hospitalisation difference between the different age groups was even greater in cities where vaccination programmes are more advanced.
Switzerland has a long way to go to catch up with Israel. Latest data show Switzerland has administered 369,085 doses of vaccine, a rate of 4 per 100, far behind Israel’s rate of 64 per 100.
The Israeli study is based on individuals who have had the BioNTech vaccine (BNT162b2).
Israeli study (in English)