Q&A – Why Are Israel And Ireland Suffering So Many Breakthrough Cases?

Flag of Ireland close-up in hands on background of blue sky during the celebration of St. Patrick's Day

Photo: Getty Images

Today’s entry: Brian, the Irish and Israel are very vaccinated, yet, seem to be experiencing some serious illness and death, while here in the US we are being told serious illness and death isn’t happening among the vaccinated. Can you figure out why the vaccine is said to be working here but not in other countries?

Bottom Line: I can certainly give you a lot of information that accounts for the possibilities in addition to previewing what we need to be mindful of in the very near future here at home. The vaccines aren’t near as effective against the variants as they were against the original strain. It’s unclear how long their efficacy is but research is becoming increasingly clear. Six months could be a key line of demarcation, especially for the Pfizer vaccine. There are a number of variables in play when contrasting Ireland, Israel, and the United States but let’s start with the current knowns. 

The efficacy for the prevention of COVID-19 against the Delta variants has shown to be 76% for Moderna and 42% for Pfizer. The Johnson and Johnson vaccine has been pulled as it wasn’t designed with the mRNA method which allows for casting a wider net for addressing variants to an original virus. This is the first and perhaps most important point for all of us to wrap our brains around because many got used to the idea early on that they were near bulletproof when the original strain efficacy rates were 95%. None of the vaccines are close to being that effective for prevention any longer. That’s one. Two, clearly there’s a huge efficacy difference between the Moderna and the Pfizer. 

While fewer than one in every four Moderna vaccinated people will obtain COVID-19, more than half of those vaccinated with the Pfizer vaccine will contract it if exposed. What one was vaccinated with matters big time. That’s the single biggest factor and variable in this conversation. It’s also the biggest obstacle informationally in this conversation because governments in conjunction with medical establishments have rhetorically treated all vaccinations as though they’re equitable. They never have been and, in my opinion, it was always irresponsible for them to have been treated as such but here we are. Third, and this is where we begin to get into significant variables between countries, over 95% of Israel’s population was vaccinated with the Pfizer vaccine. Over two-thirds of Ireland’s population was vaccinated with the Pfizer vaccine. In the United States, 56% of vaccinations have been Pfizer with 40% Moderna. 

The next huge variable is population density. Israel has one of the highest population densities in the world with 1,022 people per square mile. That’s a staggeringly high rate. Ireland’s rate stands at 147 people per square mile. By comparison in the United States, there are 87 people per square mile. For this reason alone, comparisons between what’s happening in those countries with the volume of breakthrough cases and the United States aren’t really applicable. There’s just simply that much more opportunity in those countries. 

Each day I feature a listener question sent by one of these methods. 

Email: brianmudd@iheartmedia.com

Parler & Twitter: @brianmuddradio 

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