COVID vaccine
COVID vaccine Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90

About 20,000 lives in Israel have been saved by the coronavirus vaccines, according to a study by Prof. Itamar Grotto, former head of public health services at the Health Ministry and Deputy Director General of the Ministry.

According to the report, the death toll in Israel could have been as high as 30,000 without the vaccines, instead of the current death toll of 8,371.

According to data from the Health Ministry, since the beginning of the vaccination campaign on December 19, 2020 until yesterday, about 6.7 million Israelis have received the first dose of the coronavirus vaccine, about 6 million received the second dose, about 4.4 million received the third dose, and about 600,000 Israelis have already received the fourth dose of the vaccine. The data also show that the risk of an unvaccinated Israeli dying from coronavirus is eight times greater than that of a vaccinated person, and that even in the fifth wave of the Omicron variant the vaccinated are at five times lower risk than the unvaccinated.

Prof. Grotto, an expert in public health and epidemiology and a lecturer at Ben-Gurion University in Be'er Sheva, said that "certain sections of the public and even among the experts now watching the Omicron wave claim that this is proof that it is a mild disease 'like the flu', but this is a false claim, because it does not take into account the important effect of the vaccines, which prevents serious illness and large-scale mortality even now in the face of the Omicron wave."

He said, "An analysis conducted by the European Center for Disease Control (ECDC) and published in November 2021 examined the number of deaths among adults over the age of 60 who avoided getting vaccinated in the countries of the World Health Organization in Europe, including Israel. 90% of deaths are people over the age of 60. The study, which was published on the Eurosurveillance website, found that the mortality prevention rates from the vaccines are 60% after one dose and 95% after two doses."

He added that "the study shows that in the period between December 2020, the beginning of vaccinations in Israel and abroad, November 2021, Israel is ranked third in the number of deaths avoided as a result of vaccinations, and that 15,662 deaths were avoided during this period in Israel. During this period, 3,972 people over the age of 60 died in Israel, and without the vaccines, 19,634 people would have died in Israel."

Prof Grotto emphasizes that "the researchers' conclusions are that since the beginning of vaccinations in Europe, the lives of many adults have been saved through vaccination. Early and full application of adult vaccinations has been linked to the largest decline in expected deaths. The reasons why Israel is ranked third in Europe are related to the rapid rate of vaccination in Israel and its extensive coverage for those aged 60 and over. "

"Another analysis I conducted based on Israel's mortality data at all ages, and according to the model published in the article, shows that 4,989 people died from January 1, 2021 to January 19, 2022 (in all age groups), and that without vaccines 24,661 people would have died, ie during this period the vaccines prevented 19,672 deaths," he concluded.

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