Health and Fitness

Some more thoughts on the virus and the vaccines.


Deciding to stay in Israel

When the virus started to spread, we were on vacation in Bangkok. We came back to our home in Tel Aviv on Feb. 9th. On Feb 12, the flights from Asia were stopped and those returning had to go into 14 days quarantine. While we were not required to do that, we did so anyway. We also had to make a decision. Should be stay in Israel or go back to our home in California? We decided to stay and we are very happy we made that decision. One of the reasons, for our decision was our belief that the Israeli government and especially the health care organization would respond in a rational way. We were concerned that this would not be the case in the USA especially under the leadership of Donald Trump. While I am not a supporter of Netanyahu, I believe that he is generally competent. The opposite is true of Trump.

We have had our issues in Israel and we are now on our third wave.  It is hard to get Israeli’s to take the right actions like wearing a mask  and social distancing although it is not a political issue like it has turned into in the USA.  

Israel the world leader in vaccinations per capita

Israel is now the leader in vaccinating.  We have vaccinate more than 9% of our population already including me.  Soon, we should have all those over 60 years vaccinated along with medical workers and other critical workers.  We are vaccinating at a rate greater than 150k a day.  Israel has a population equal to 3% of the USA.  So that is equivalent to 5 million vaccination a day in the USA. We are close to a million as I write this with would be about 33 million in the USA.  I so hope that USA can get its act together.  We have family and friends living in the USA including LA and we are scared for them.

Vaccination is our only savior

I think that vaccination is the only thing that can save countries.  Herd immunity is not going to help.  It is actually a really dumb idea given the infectiousness of this disease.  I believe that everyone that does not get vaccinated will eventually get COVID-19.  Most will not have a bad case as is the current situation but many will get very sick and some will die.  

The two drugs that we have approved in Israel are the Pfizer and the Moderna.  We have not yet started with the Moderna which is slightly better and certainly easier to administrate but that should happen in a few weeks.  We hope to vaccinate everyone in the next 3-4 months.  

What does 95% effective really mean?

I have been investigating the trial data.  Both the Pfizer and Moderna are around 95% effective.  So what is the situation with the other 5%.  It appears that some people do not have a long term immune response to the vaccine or to the virus.  This are at the same people that could get infected again.  It may be that a third injection or using a different vaccine might trigger the long term immune response that that is not known. 

Both my wife and I will have anti body tests done three months after our first vaccination.  That will tell us if we are immune or not and have a big implication on what we will do going forward.  If we have immunity, we can pretty much travel anywhere.  If we are not, we will need to stay in Israel and see if we can get additional injections and hope that we can trigger an immune response.  

The virus will continue to mutate.  Right now it looks like the vaccines will work agains any of the known mutations but that might not always be the case.  In additional, our immunity will last one to two years.  Se will be have to get early boosters, I think.  Here in Israel they want to do that together with a flue shot.   

We will have will continue to social distance and wear masks until we know that we are immune.  Even after, we will do that out side. The Israel government is going to require mask wearing for at least 3-4 or more months.

If you are immune, can you infect others?

It is unlikely that you can infect someone if you are immune.  There is a very slight possibility that you could have the virus in the mucus of your nose and transfer that.  More studies need to be made.  But at some point the benefits are worth the chances.  Different people will have different ideas about this for sure.

8 thoughts on “Some more thoughts on the virus and the vaccines.

  1. Hello Avram,

    In march 2020, in an early post on the wuhan virus, you wrote that “Getting the virus is pretty much a numbers game. The more people you interact with, the higher the chance that you will be exposed.”

    I agreed to that. And I understand that because more and more people got infected, the risk of being infected is now much higher than before, to a point where it will become very hard not to be infected because we interact with an ever higher number of infected people.

    In October, Dr Fauci warned that early COVID-19 vaccines will only prevent symptoms from arising – not block infection (https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-8884031/Dr-Fauci-warns-early-COVID-19-vaccines-prevent-symptoms-not-block-infection.html).

    Aren’t we in the early vaccine phase, which means it’s better to wait a bit longer? What is the benefit of having only you being vaccinated and not your wife? Doesn’t it nullify most of the social advantages of being vaccinated?

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    • Thanks for comments. The probability of getting an infection is related to behavior of the individual, the prevalence of the diseases in the community and the amount of time. For a while, there was belief that the virus would die out once 70-80% of the community had developed anti bodies either because that got COVID 19 or they were vaccinated, that is no longer the view of many including me. Therefore, given enough time, everyone will get the virus unless they are inoculated. Most people will either be asymptomatic or have a mild case but many will become severely ill and some will die.

      I am surprised at the comments you reference from Fauci whom I hold in high respect. I doubt that he thinks that now as the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines demonstrate 95% effectivity rate (out of every 100 people in their trails that go the virus, only 5 had been vaccinated). The vaccines have been extensively tested and are extremely effective. We are very lucky about that.

      Why would it make sense to wait? There will be no improvements/changes for more than a year and they will have to go through clinical trials. The effective rate is very high so I doubt that we will see much improvements. We may find ways to reduce the 5% by given stronger dosage or a different vaccine. But taking the virus now will not harm that possibility. The other reasons would be safety but we have a great deal of safety data. The vaccines are extremely safe. I can’t see why long term data would change things the antibodies remove any trace of the vaccine other than the antibodies.

      There is a great benefit from having one spouse vaccinate although having both would be much better. If my wife were to get the virus, should would not be able to infect me. If I was not vaccinate, it is likely that since we live together, she would infect me. Since I would be immuned, it is very unlikely that I could infect her. So my getting the vaccine before her protects both of us. The good news is that my wife will probably be vaccinated in January. The next major group to be vaccinated in Israel will be 59-50 which is her age group.

      I hope you and your family get vaccinated as soon as possible. If you have concerns that will keep you from doing this, contact me directly.

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  2. I don’t have concerns but lack of motivation due to my very careful lifestyle, but I’m not going to bother you or your blog viewers with my own situation. I covered it in details after one of my readers asked me what I plan to do.

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  3. Unfortunately, the U.S. has done almost everything wrong, starting with the soon-to-be-ex-President saying it would just magically disappear. Here in Texas the Republicans starting with the Governor on down, have been pretty much useless, including preventing local governments from implementing their own rules. Texas is a big state. Some counties have only had a few cases, and other more populous counties have run out of ICU beds. Both my wife and I are in group 1B, which means we am over 65 but less than 80 years old and / or have a comorbidity. I found out a few days ago on the news, after all available spots were taken, that we were eligible to sign up for a vaccination. Now we have to wait again and hope we see an announcement and can sign up before all the available spots are taken again. There is no way to preregister and be notified when we have been given a spot. In the mean time, my employer is deciding on a month-by-month basis whether we can continue to work from home. Currently, we are able to WFH through the first quarter of the year. When I have to return to the office, I will be returning to a campus with several thousand of my coworkers. I hope we all survive.

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    • Thanks for your comments. My heart goes our to you and so many more that are suffering needlessly. The USA has the capability of dealing with the virus but not the leadership. Please stay safe.

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      • Avram,
        Thanks for your kind words.
        I live in the 7th largest city in the U.S. and vaccine availability has improved and so has the communication on when signups for vaccinations are available. I have been rather randomly hitting the sign up website to try and register and about 4 weeks ago I managed to get registered for the first dose of the Pfizer vaccine. It was done in a large indoor arena. Other than some soreness at the injection site, I had no side effects. I was automatically registered for my second dose 3 weeks later, which was this past Monday. Due to the power outages in Texas, my family went without power for 3 days and my appointment was rescheduled for yesterday. I have received my second dose.
        I feel very sorry for the many people in my city who do not have access to the internet or do not have high speed internet. For those people, there is a phone number to call to register, but the phone lines are constantly jammed. There are some people who are volunteering to help make appointments for the elderly who are having difficulty trying to register.
        Unfortunately, a few weeks before I was able to register, my wife who also qualifies for the vaccine came down with a non-covid illness. When she recovers we will try to get her registered. Even though I have been vaccinated, I will continue to take protections as if I was not.

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