The Pfizer-BioNTech-developed coronavirus vaccine used in Israel has become far less effective at preventing symptomatic cases of the virus, a senior hospital official warned Tuesday, amidst outbreaks of the Delta or ‘Indian Variant’.
Speaking with Radio 103FM Tuesday morning, the director of Shaare Zedek Medical Center in Jerusalem, Prof. Yonatan HaLevy said that the new Delta variant is “aggressive” and more infectious than previous strains of the virus.
In addition, it appears that the mRNA vaccines used to combat the COVID pandemic are less effective at preventing symptoms than previously believed, possibly due in part to differences between the variants, HaLevy said.
“The Delta Variant, what was previously called the Indian Variant, is aggressive, powerful, and infectious, but it appears that our vaccines are still effective – though less effective; not 95%, but much, much less.”
Nevertheless, HaLevy emphasized that the vaccine still appears to be effective in preventing people from developing serious cases of the virus.
“But we still see that the vaccine has shown effectiveness against serious illness.”
Of the 35 patients in serious condition Monday, HaLevy noted that the Health Ministry’s criteria are so broad as to include a “heterogeneous” group of patients in varying levels of severity.
“The thirty-five seriously ill patients are very heterogeneous; the criteria for seriously ill according to the Health Ministry are that a person’s oxygen saturation in the blood falls to below 92. The numbers haven’t been released regarding how many of these people are in critical condition, how many are on assisted breathing.”
HaLevy went on to chide the Health Ministry for conveying a “semi-apocalyptic vision” to the public regarding the coronavirus pandemic.
“There is a difference between giving an opinion and taking responsibility. I wouldn’t call this hysteria, but there is no question that the Health Ministry has been leading this semi-apocalyptic vision. When we get to 1,000 [new cases per day], I’d want to know how many seriously ill patients there are who need to be on assisted breathing in hospitals.”