Most of the severe COVID-19 cases at one of Israel’s largest hospital complexes are people who received at least three shots, according to the director of the coronavirus ward.
The Middle East nation has one of the world’s highest rates of vaccination, about 90%, with many high-risk patients having received a fourth shot.
Prof. Yaakov Jerris told Israel’s Channel 13 News that “most of our severe cases are vaccinated,” Israel National News reported.
“They had at least three injections. Between 70 and 80 percent of the serious cases are vaccinated,” said Jerris, who works for Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center, also known as Ichilov Hospital, the nation’s second largest.
“So, the vaccine has no significance regarding severe illness, which is why just 20 to 25 percent of our patients are unvaccinated.”
At an Israeli government cabinet meeting on Sunday, Jerris tried to clear up confusion regarding how COVID cases are reported.
“Defining a serious patient is problematic,” he told the ministers. “For example, a patient with a chronic lung disease always had a low level of oxygen, but now he has a positive coronavirus test result which technically makes him a ‘serious coronavirus patient.'”
That isn’t accurate, he said.
“The patient is only in a difficult condition because he has a serious underlying illness.”
There were more COVID-19 cases identified in Israel during January this year than the entirety of 2021, according to a report released Thursday, the Times of Israel reported.
Last month, preliminary results released of a landmark Israeli study found that a fourth Pfizer booster shot is only partially effective in protecting against the omicron variant. The study is consistent with a German government report that found more than 95% of reported cases of the omicron COVID-19 variant in the country were in vaccinated individuals.
Meanwhile, Israeli scientists say they have accumulated the most convincing evidence that taking vitamin D supplements can help COVID-19 patients reduce the risk of serious illness or death, the Times of Israel reported.
Israel scientists say they have gathered the most convincing evidence to date that increased vitamin D levels can help COVID-19 patients reduce the risk of serious illness or death.
The peer-reviewed study published Thursday in the journal PLOS is based on research conducted during Israel’s first two waves of the virus before vaccines became available.
The researchers from Bar Ilan University and the Galilee Medical Center said the impact was so strong that they could predict how infected people would fare based on only their ages and vitamin D levels.
“We found it remarkable, and striking, to see the difference in the chances of becoming a severe patient when you are lacking in vitamin D compared to when you’re not,” said Dr. Amiel Dror, a Galilee Medical Center physician and Bar Ilan researcher.
He said vitamin D strengthens the immune systems “to deal with viral pathogens that attack the respiratory system.”
“This is equally relevant for Omicron as it was for previous variants,” he told the Times of Israel.
The researchers published preliminary findings in June that showed 26% of coronavirus patients died if they were vitamin D deficient soon before hospitalization. That compared to 3% who had normal levels of vitamin D.
And hospitalized COVID-19 patients who were vitamin D deficient were 14 times more likely than others to end up in severe or critical condition.
Dror said his team addressed the question in the scientific community of whether recent health conditions among the patients might have been skewed the results. In other words, was vitamin deficiency a symptom rather than a contributing factor?
To account for that possibility, the researchers examined each patient’s vitamin D levels over the two-year period prior coronavirus infection.
“We checked a range of timeframes, and found that wherever you look over the two years before infection, the correlation between vitamin D and disease severity is extremely strong,” Dror said.
Because of its wide scope, he added, the study offers “stronger support than anything seen so far emphasizing the importance of boosting vitamin D levels during the pandemic.”
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