Senior health officials have told Kan 11 News that if the immunization trend continues at the current rate and the number of infections continues to rise in the coming weeks, the chances increase that in one to two months Israel would reach herd immunity to the coronavirus.
According to the same senior officials, tens of thousands more unvaccinated Israelis are expected to be infected in the coming weeks—most of them children, while tens of thousands more are expected to receive the third vaccine dose. In such a situation, there are expected to be about 4.5 million in Israel who will have received the boost shot. The officials believe that the combination of infection trends and vaccination will bring Israel to where it was in early July, before the outbreak of the fourth wave of the pandemic.
But the notion that herd immunity to the Corona can be reached with around 70% of the population having either been vaccinated or survived an infection has been challenged by medical authorities. In mid-August, Bloomberg cited the Infectious Diseases Society of America, which estimated that the delta variant had pushed the threshold for herd immunity to over 80%, closer to 90%. The Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and the Chief Medical Advisor to the President Anthony Fauci has been criticized for moving the goalposts on herd immunity, raising the number of people it would require. Never mind that a combination of the anti-vaccination movement and supply shortages means that most countries won’t even get close to the 70% figure.
Meanwhile, Israel’s Coronavirus Czar Salman Zarka has suggested that a fourth dose of the vaccine is in our future, as part of learning to live with the virus. But Zarka added that the next dose should include answers to all the currently known variants of Covid-19, much the way the flu vaccine we take each fall season contains responses to the latest variants of the flu virus.
And Jason Kindrachuk, a virologist at the University of Manitoba, told CTV News last week that “we have to get away from this idea that there is a core number we need to reach.” This expert spoke in response to the fact that even though Canada has had more than 76% of its eligible population fully vaccinated as of last Wednesday, with more than 84% receiving one dose, in several provinces the case counts continue to rise, mostly among the unvaccinated. So, a definite no herd immunity even at 84%.
“When you talk about herd immunity, you’re looking at not only the immunity you have in your population but also the transmissibility of the current circulating strain,” Kindrachuk said. “You have different variables you have to take into account. And Delta has pushed that transmissibility quotient up quite a bit from what we were looking at in early 2020.”
But Kindrachuk, like the vast majority of the medical establishment around the world, insists that while the number of cases is rising, being vaccinated remains effective against the Delta variant in preventing severe sickness and death.
So, no herd immunity, but more manageable outcomes of infections – the definition of learning to live with the pandemic.