Study finds COVID variant affects vaccinated individuals more than unvaccinated
11 April, 2021
The South Africa variant of the coronavirus affects vaccinated individuals more than those who are unvaccinated, according to a new study from Tel Aviv University and Israel’s largest healthcare provider.
The study, which was published Saturday and still requires peer review, looked at 400 individuals who tested positive for the coronavirus despite receiving at least one dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine and compared the prevalence of the South African variant, B.1.351, with the same number of people who have not yet received a vaccination.
“We found a disproportionately higher rate of the South African variant among people vaccinated with a second dose, compared to the unvaccinated group,” said Adi Stern of Tel Aviv University. “This means that the South African variant is able, to some extent, to break through the vaccine’s protection.
Not only could the variant “break through” protections offered by the Pfizer vaccine, but it uniquely affects those who have been vaccinated (around eight times higher) than those who have not received the vaccine — 5.4% to 0.7%.
Stern said the result came as a surprise, based on larger patterns.
“Based on patterns in the general population, we would have expected just one case of the South African variant, but we saw eight,” Stern told the Times of Israel. “Obviously, this result didn’t make me happy.”
The South Africa variant is generally rare, making up only about 1% of all coronavirus infections.
“Even if the South African variant does break through the vaccine’s protection, it has not spread widely through the population,” Stern added.
The study has not yet been peer-reviewed, but Clalit Research director and professor Ran Balicer said the study is still important as it is “the first in the world to be based on real-world data.”
Tel Aviv University clarified the study focused on the Pfizer vaccine, which 53% of Israel’s 9.3 million citizens have received, and omitted the Moderna vaccine, which is only rarely used in the country. About a third of the country is under the age of 16 and is not eligible to receive any vaccine.
The study is also not intended to point to the overall effectiveness of the vaccines, as it specifically included those who tested positive for the coronavirus.
93 Israeli doctors: Do not use Covid-19 vaccine on children
“We believe that not even a handful of children should be endangered through mass vaccination against a disease not dangerous to them.”
11 April, 2021
93 doctors have signed a joint letter of protest calling to refrain from administering Covid-19 vaccines to children.
In a letter, the contents of which reached Channel 12, submitted this morning, the doctors explained that “There is no room to vaccinate children at this time,” and based the call on “the following values – the value of caution, the value of humility”, as well as understanding that “haste is from the devil.” They also cited “the recognition that we do not understand everything about the virus and the vaccine against it,” and “the first commandment of medicine – ‘First do not harm.'”
The letter includes the signatures of Dr. Amir Shachar, director of the emergency room at Laniado Hospital, Dr. Yoav Yehezkeli, an expert in internal medicine and a lecturer at Tel Aviv University, and Dr. Avi Mizrahi, director of the intensive care unit at Kaplan Hospital.
The doctors addressed the letter “to the chiefs of the Ministry of Health, to our fellow doctors around the country, and to the entire public.”
They noted that “the increasingly prevalent opinion within the scientific community is that the vaccine cannot lead to herd immunity, therefore there is currently no ‘altruistic’ justification for vaccinating children to protect at-risk populations.”
They added that even today it is unclear whether the vaccine prevents the spread of the virus and for how long it confers protection, and noted that new variants “that may be more resistant to vaccination are popping up all the time.”
“We believe that not even a handful of children should be endangered through mass vaccination against a disease that is not dangerous to them,” they wrote. “Furthermore, it cannot be ruled out that the vaccine will have long-term adverse effects that have not yet been discovered at this time, including on growth, reproductive system or fertility. Children should be allowed a quick return to routine; the many tests and broad isolation cycles should be stopped, and no separation between the vaccinated and unvaccinated should be created in the public sphere. Vaccination of at-risk populations should be allowed, and under the almost complete vaccination of this population – it is possible to return to full routine (with periodic adjustments) even in the presence of COVID-19 virus.”
They devoted a separate part of the letter the fact that there is still not a complete picture of serious and rare effects of the vaccine, due to the fact that many vaccinated people who experienced side effects did not report it. “Therefore, we fear that at this point in time, there is under-reporting of side effects. Moreover, a causal link between events – if any – will only emerge in due course, as more and more events of a certain type accumulate. For example, if there is a serious health event that happens to 12 young people a year in Israel (ie – an average of 1 per month), while the vaccine also causes this serious event infrequently, it will take many months until it is clear that there is an increase in the incidence of the event, and that there is a connection between the vaccine and its appearance.”
“Do not rush to vaccinate children as long as the full picture is not clear. Coronavirus disease does not endanger children, and the first rule in medicine is ‘first do not harm’. The full picture is expected in many months, and possibly years. Moreover, one must wait for such documentation not only from Israeli data but from global data. In this context it is worthy to add that ‘black box warnings’ – warnings about severe or life-threatening side effects – accumulate months and years after drug approval, due to the fact that severe but rare toxins appear, naturally, only over time.”
Against the background of estimates of a third dose that adults will be required to receive, they wrote that “we believe it is not appropriate to impose the inconvenience of vaccination on the pediatric population, where coronavirus is not dangerous, especially at this stage” when the vaccine’s “efficiency in the long run is not at all clear.” According to them, “Pediatrics in Israel is one of the best in the world, and pediatric intensive care – above all. It is extremely rare for a child to die of a viral disease, and this can happen, unfortunately, as a result of various types of viruses. We do not think it is right to manage private life and public health policy out of an ongoing fear of a viral illness that is very rarely liable to harm our children’s lives. “
“In view of the fact that the vaccination of the vulnerable population reduces hospitalizations and mortality from Covid – we believe that the negative effects of the virus will be much smaller when the majority of the at-risk population is vaccinated, as begins to appear to be the case in the country, and this without the need to vaccinate children,” they explained.
“We believe that our children should be allowed to return to the routine of their blessed lives immediately, and should not be vaccinated against Covid-19,” the doctors concluded the joint letter. “Asymptomatic children’s tests, which have no clinical significance but cause widespread indirect damage, and the mass isolation cycles in education frameworks, should be stopped immediately. It should be emphasized to the public that even vaccinated people can be infected and infect, and that the same rules of conduct apply to everyone without connection to vaccination status. We must stop pointing the finger of blame at the unvaccinated, and we must stop violating the rights of the individual. We must immediately stop all forms of exclusion and separation between people in the public sphere.”