Just As COVID Vaccine Found To Be 99% Effective In Preventing Death, Japan Discovers New, More Contagious Strain

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by Tyler Durden
Sunday, Feb 21, 2021 - 10:50 AM

With each passing day, covid gets closer to being a distant memory.

The seven-day average of new cases in the US is down to 77,700 in the US, 69% below the mid-January peak...

... while in the top 5 European nations, the seven-day average has declined to 61,800, down 55% from the mid-January peak.  US Covid-related hospitalizations have dropped by 50% and Covid-related fatalities are also continue to decline, with daily deaths  almost 25% below the recent peaks in the US (at 2,560) and 30% below in the five major European countries (at 2,350).

Globally, the 7-day average of new cases stood at over 366k, a 12.8% decrease from a week ago. Meanwhile, the 7-day average of Covid-related fatalities across the globe was 10.8k yesterday. A Johns Hopkins professor wrote a WSJ op-ed predicting that the US will hit herd immunity by April, even as Fauci continues to fearmonger that 2022 is when normality will return.

More importantly, every passing day brings us closer to herd immunity: the US administered 11.5m vaccine doses over the past week, increasing the total to 56.3m. Europe administered 11m doses this past week, for a total of 45.3m. The US administration announced that Covid-19 vaccine deliveries allow for an increase in supply to the states to 13.5 million doses per week, up from the current 11.5 million.

Since early February, the pace of US vaccinations has steadily improved from 9 million shots per week to 11.5 million (equivalent to 3.5% of the population).

Over the same period, weekly vaccinations in the UK have flat-lined at just below 3 million (4.4% of the population), following a surge since the start of the year, while those in the four largest Euro area member states have remained at around 2 million in total (1% of the population).

In the latest positive pandemic development, the Jerusalem Post reported that the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine was proven to be about 99% effective in preventing hospitalization, serious disease and death for those who are past two weeks from the second dose, new data released by the Israeli Health Ministry on Saturday night showed. The protocol to administer the Pfizer vaccine involves two injections three weeks apart. Israel started to administer the vaccine on December 19. The report included the figures collected by the ministry up to February 13.

The news came just as Israel was preparing to send 1.1 million children back to their classrooms – 500,000 more than attended last week – and open up gyms, hotel rooms, malls and street shops.

The Health Ministry measured the level of effectiveness of the vaccine both seven days after the second shot – when the immunity is considered to kick in – and another seven days later. The ministry compared the morbidity and mortality rates between those who vaccinated and those who did not.

“Thanks to the strong health care system of the State of Israel, which has enabled us to reach an unparalleled extensive vaccination rate in a short period of time, as well as to our ability to carry out comprehensive epidemiological tracking, we are the first country in the world to demonstrate the effect of the corona vaccine in the real clinical world,” Health Ministry Director-General Chezy Levy said.

According to the document, a week after the second dose, the jab was 91.8% effective in preventing individuals from contracting the virus, 96.9% from developing symptoms such as fever and respiratory difficulties, and 95.6%, 96.4% and 94.5% against hospitalization, serious illness and death respectively.

In addition, two weeks after the second shot, the efficacy improved even further: 95.8% against contracting the virus, 98% against developing symptoms such as fever and respiratory difficulties, and about 99% against hospitalization, serious illness and death – 98.9%, 99.2% and 98.9%. The data clearly shows a significant decrease in cases among the population over 60 as a higher rate of them became fully vaccinated.

“The vaccine significantly reduces morbidity and mortality and its effect can be seen in the morbidity data in the country,” Levy said. “Our goal is to continue to vaccinate the entire population over 16, and when the time comes also those under the age of 16, in order to achieve the extensive coverage that will allow us to return to the normal life we all long for.”

Israel’s infection rate has been decreasing for several days. Some 3,011 cases were recorded on Thursday and on Friday the number of serious patients dropped for the first time under 900 in several weeks – to 858.

Sadly, too much good covid news is not acceptable - as it minimizes the leeway politicians have to inject further trillions in stimulus thereby entrenching government cronyism and perpetuating corruption - and so just as it seemed that covid is on its way out Japan confirmed on Friday that a new coronavirus variant had infected nearly 100 people.

Reuters reported that Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato told reporters that 91 infections were documented in the Kanto area of eastern Japan and two other cases were discovered at airports.

Of course, the latest and greatest covid strain had be scary enough to be even scarier than whatever prevailing mutant forms are currently out there, and sure enough...

"It may be more contagious than conventional strains, and if it continues to spread domestically, it could lead to a rapid rise in cases," Kato said.

The variant has a mutation on the spike protein that could lower the efficacy of vaccines. The National Institute of Infectious Diseases said that the variant appears to have originated overseas, but it is different from other variants circulating in Britain, South Africa and Brazil.

Japan has over 422,000 cases of the virus and 7,360 deaths, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. The country's health ministry reports Japan has reported 150 cases of the other variants first found in Britain, South Africa and Brazilian travelers.

The variants have complicated the outbreak's outlook, with speculation that the highly infectious strain first documented in the U.K. could become the dominant one in the U.S. in March. Experts have said it is now a race to get as many people vaccinated as possible to help control the spread of the variants.

Naturally, the scramble for vaccines has to be reset the moment a strain emerges that is immune to the latest technology, which appears to be taking place now, which is why we would not be surprised if just a few months from now the number of covid cases is once again "found" to soar on the back of economies reopening and social distancing easing, which in turn brings us back to our favorite flow chart...

... which virtually assures an economic slump in the second half of 2021, just in time to greenlight the next giga-stimulus and next round of monthly government handouts from the Biden administration.