D.he incidences in Hesse are stagnating, with many hoping that the disturbing predictions of another wave of Covid-19 diseases might be exaggerated after all. Ronni Gamzu, on the other hand, director of the Souraski Medical Center with the Ichilov Hospital, the largest hospital in Tel Aviv, predicts with great certainty when Germany will again have to struggle with increasing numbers of infections and thus many seriously ill people: “In a few months yours will Herd immunity drops abruptly – if you do not prepare for the third vaccination. “
For Gamzu, who at the beginning of the pandemic in 2020 had also taken on the role of the Israeli government’s Corona officer and has played such a large part in setting up the vaccination campaign, which has received worldwide attention, the situation is perfectly clear: only the third vaccination immunizes people against severe ones Course of disease after infection with SARS-CoV2. He explained why this week at a meeting with the Frankfurt delegation led by Mayor Peter Feldmann (SPD), who had come to Tel Aviv to celebrate the partnership between the two cities that has now been going on for four decades.
Booster vaccination necessary
Gamzu referred to other vaccines, such as against hepatitis, which are also only really effective after the third dose, and he cited studies according to which in many test subjects the antibodies formed after the second vaccination were already significantly lower four months later. Protection against serious illnesses drops from around ninety to only forty percent.
“You probably have a little more time in Germany before you need the third vaccination,” says Gamzu. Israel, which was the showcase country for the whole world with its vaccination campaign earlier this year, had been so quick to immunize the population that there was only three weeks between the first and second dose. “We now know that increasing the amount of time between vaccinations improves immune protection,” said Gamzu.
In Germany, six weeks were allowed to pass until the second appointment, so the Germans might not have to get the “booster” after six months, but rather after just under a year. The physician, who could be called the “Professor Drosten of Israel” because of his media presence, left no doubt that the booster vaccination is needed.
In fact, a large number of Israelis have already received their third dose. In addition, the vaccine is expected to be approved for children under the age of twelve, and preparations have been made for a quick vaccination campaign among schoolchildren. The country, in which almost 15 percent of the population was infected with the coronavirus in the past (in Germany five percent) and which also has more deaths in proportion to the total population, has largely returned to normal life.
Inside, however, a mask requirement still applies, and a strict access system similar to the German 3G rules has been established. The hurdles for unvaccinated people are particularly high when traveling abroad: Those who have not been immunized three times have to be in quarantine for two weeks after returning. This especially motivates young people who are used to traveling a lot to get vaccinated again.
Overall, the rate of fully vaccinated in Israel is slightly lower than in Germany, where it approaches 67 percent. The vaccination pioneers also have difficulties in convincing all sections of the population and therefore try to make access as easy as possible. As before, several vaccination centers have been set up in Tel Aviv, and doctors and clinics are immunizing anyway. Some people will never be reached, but those who hesitate, who keep postponing their vaccinations, have to be pushed a little, said Gamzu.
He is therefore satisfied with the so-called green pass system in the country. He personally thinks less of lockdowns, and the fact that the Israeli government keeps the national borders as good as closed for tourists and business travelers does not make sense in his opinion. “Israel is not an island,” he complains.
For the third wave of vaccinations, Gamzu expects that around 85 percent of those who have previously been vaccinated twice will stand in line again for an injection. So he does not believe that a quota of 80 percent or more, which scientists have calculated as a prerequisite for herd immunity, can be achieved.
That doesn’t scare him – precisely because there is an effective vaccine against the virus. Whereby Israel only inoculates the vaccine Comirnaty developed by the Mainz company Biontech. “The big change is that we are dealing with another virus. We don’t have to fear that, we have to be prepared for it. “
The Frankfurt Health Department would like to know more about what that means in concrete terms, but also how the clinics in Tel Aviv are interlinked with the city’s protective measures. This is what it says in a letter that Mayor Feldmann handed over to Gamzu and a representative of the Tel Aviv health authorities at the end of the meeting. The two partner cities could work more closely together in this field in the future; in fact, there have been contacts between the hospitals and the health departments of both cities for years.