Despite boasting higher adult vaccination rates than any other developed nation, Israel is scrambling to stanch a resurgence of new COVID infections after the country's top scientists revealed that they believed the Pfizer vaccine is only 64% effective at preventing infections involving the Delta variant currently stoking problems across the globe.
Just last week, Pfizer and its partner BioNTech announced plans to seek approval for a "booster" dose, provoking a rare, and surprisingly adversarial, response from the CDC and FDA. The two government agencies warned that there was presently no reason to believe that a "booster dose" will be necessary.
If nothing else, this simply demonstrates that "the science" is no longer the priority for either Big Pharma, nor the federal government, since Big Pharma is now focused on maximizing profits from its new cash cow, while the federal government is calibrating everything it says and does with an eye toward encouraging as many American adults as possible to get vaccinated.
And if people read that they're going to need a booster shot in a few months anyway, why would they bother getting vaccinated now?
Anyway, having been stymied in the US, Pfizer is trudging ahead with its "booster shot" plans by striking a deal to expedite resupply to Israel, which is planning to administer a third "booster" jab to patients with certain high-risk comorbidities starting Aug. 1.
The Jerusalem Post reports that the next shipment of Pfizer jabs will arrive on Aug. 1 instead of in September (Israel also has 200K doses of Moderna on hand, but those can only be used on adult patients).
Israeli PM Naftali Bennett said Sunday: "We have been working on the issue of vaccines for several weeks," Bennett said. "This morning, I am pleased to announce that after a series of discussions with Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla, we closed a deal last night to move up the next vaccination delivery to August 1." "There are vaccines for everyone."
Last week, Israel announced it had agreed on a vaccine-exchange deal with South Korea. Under the terms of the deal, Israel delivered some 700K doses to South Korea, which it will return when it receives its next vaccine delivery.
And as we noted earlier, immuno-compromised patients will be able to receive their third shot starting immediately, said Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz.
In the meantime, Israel continues to register a higher number of daily cases. At the beginning of June, some 10-20 people were found to be new virus carriers every day. Currently, several hundred are testing positive on a daily basis. The number of active cases (which had shrunk to 200 recently) has rebounded to 4,000.
Pfizer will meet with top US health officials on Monday to discuss Pfizer's push to receive federal authorization for its booster shot, according to the Associated Press.
"Certainly, immunity decreases over time...the question is how much time," one doctor told CNBC during an interview Monday morning.
Before Delta arrived in Israel, some believed the country had reached "herd immunity". But as Dr. Scott Gottlieb and others have pointed out, COVID is now endemic in the human population, and reaching "COVID zero", a standard that Israel is aiming at, simply might not be possible. Israeli officials have already acknowledged that with the large percentage of Israeli's vaccinated, deaths and hospitalizations associated with COVID will likely continue to decline, even if the number of new cases does rise.