Email of the day on Israeli vaccinations
Comment of the Day

February 01 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Email of the day on Israeli vaccinations

I live in Israel and so can share with you what I am seeing on the ground. Israel's results would have been even better if we did not have two internal communities whose behaviour is the main cause of the high contamination rates. The ultra-orthodox Jewish minority (about 15% of the population) refuses to obey the rules of social distancing. The members of this community insist on gathering together to pray and to study the religious texts. They make up about 40% of the positive cases and deaths from Covid. The Arab citizens of Israel also resists the social distancing rules and they are the other cluster of positive cases and deaths. Many of them fear that the vaccine is an Israeli plot to weaken them. The rest of the Israeli population is obeying the rules and that is why the situation is very good. At the same time as the mass vaccination there is very strict lockdown. This will probably continue for some time until so many people have been vaccinated that there is a mass immunity. The Palestinians in the West Bank have, unfortunately once again chosen an unsuccessful strategy. Under the Oslo Agreements, the Palestinian Authority is responsible for health. The PLA decided at the start of this crisis not to cooperate with Israel, but to rely on the UN for its vaccine. This is why the Arab population of the West bank is lagging behind on being vaccinated.

Eoin Treacy's view

Thank you for this insight. There is a significant population of people in most countries who for varying reasons will not take a vaccine. In Israel it might be the Orthodox or Arab populations, but in the USA, there is a significant and highly vocal anti-vax community which conservatively reaches about 15% of the population.

Additionally, the black community has the been the subject of botched medical experiments in the past. Many people are leery of taking vaccines. That’s before we even begin to think about the online conspiracy theories that have been circulating over the last 12 months and have certainly affected sentiment. This article from NBC news highlights the fact that 70% of nursing home staff are refusing to get the shot.

I think it is safe to say there will be a significant minority that refuse vaccination in most countries. As we process into the year, there will be more vaccines permissioned and production will ramp up. By December there will be a surfeit of doses. By June, anyone who wants a vaccine will be able to get one I suspect. The big question at this stage is whether the conscientious objectors to taking a vaccine will be allowed to travel, work or study without one.

There is no doubt that COVID-19 is deadlier than the flu. An uncomfortably high percentage of people who develop severe symptoms, which require hospitalisation, experience a lengthy recovery. Aches and weakness are among the most common issues reported. However, risk remains concentrated in the ranks of the elderly and those who are already ill with chronic conditions.

It was obvious as early as August that a massive public information campaign would be required to ensure a successful inoculation program. That didn’t happen so there is a clear risk of difficulty in reaching the herd immunity threshold. Forcing vaccination is a serious infringement of civil liberties but it is actively being considered.

My own view is anyone who habitually gets the flu vaccine, will have little issue with getting the COVID vaccine. Meanwhile, the trial of ivermectin as a treatment for COVID-19 in the UK might prove to be the bridge between the anti-vaccination movement and the desire to reach herd immunity as quickly as possible.

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