For many countries, Covid-19 vaccination programmes are well under way. As of today, 73 have already begun inoculating nationals, and Israel has even administered at least one dose to 79.5% of its population (Table 1). Globally, an estimated 188mn have now received their first jab, and the vaccination pace is increasing (Chart 1).
At the same time, global coronavirus cases have fallen consistently since the start of the year (Chart 2). Over the last week, 2.6mn cases were recorded globally, down 15% WoW. The last time weekly cases were this low was 19 October 2020. So, ostensibly, there is scope for optimism.
All eyes have been on Israel’s vaccine rollout and its efficacy at mitigating mild and severe disease. The country has benefited from an efficient distribution of jabs and its relatively small size. To put it into perspective, the US vaccinated 1.5 times Israel’s population last week. Regardless, Israel has vaccinated almost 80% of its population, and 30% have received both doses.
The country followed a similar strategy to most, vaccinating the elderly and most vulnerable first. In mid-January, at the height of hospital admissions, the average age among the severely ill was 69 (Charts 3 and 4). It was not until an estimated 80% of over-60s received a vaccination that admissions began to fall. Over the last few weeks, hospitalisations and the average patient age have come down, suggesting the vaccines may be having a mitigating effect. The average age of the severely ill is 63, the lowest during the pandemic.
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