A country with the most advanced vaccination program underway on the planet, Israel predicts that new mutations in the novel coronavirus will alter the formulas of inevitable immunizers and is already seeking to prepare for them.
“We have no way to avoid this, but we will overcome it. I hope companies change their vaccines quickly,” Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said, citing the most transmissible variants ever found in the UK , South Africa and Brazil.
So far, Israel has vaccinated 47% of its 9.9 million people, according to aggregator OurWorldInData. According to Netanyahu, 82% are already covered in the most vulnerable group, such as the elderly and healthcare professionals.
There are still no data reviewed by the scientific community, but indications that not only the number of hospitalizations has plunged by 60%, but also that of new infections. “But it’s a matter of time for the vaccines not to work, I’m told,” the prime minister said.
Leading a country in constant conflict with his neighbors, he drew a military analogy with his plan to use the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, which he bought at an average price of $ 47 (R $ 254) for two doses per person. – more than the others. negotiations around the world.
“It’s like checking ammunition during war. I hope the inoculation will be annual, and we need to be prepared for that and future purchases,” he said. Regarding the fact that he paid more for the doses, he only said he told the bureaucrats to “stop with nonsense” (in non-diplomatic English, “cut the shit”).
The two vaccines used in Israel use the new technology in which the genetic material, messenger RNA, is used to transport a protein similar to that used by the novel coronavirus to bind to human cells and generate an immune response.
The three variants that have scared scientists have mutations focused precisely on this protein, which raises questions about the effectiveness of vaccines. This is under investigation, although Moderna has previously said her immunizer is still working.
In the case of Coronavac, a Chinese drug developed jointly with the Butantan Institute, which so far is most widely distributed in Brazil, the technology is different.
Using a traditional method, a deactivated version of the coronavirus is taken to stimulate the immune response. Theoretically, this makes the vaccine less susceptible to mutations, since it is not just the binding protein that is used, but the whole virus.
However, there are still no clear studies on this. The Oxford vaccine, developed by the British university of the same name and the Anglo-Swedish laboratory AstraZeneca, uses only the binding protein, sent by a viral vector – an adenovirus that causes the common cold in monkeys.
“It’s an arms race between the vaccine and the mutations. You are still two weeks behind,” Netanyahu said.
Harassed by allegations of corruption and continuing instability in the government, which was dissolved in December. New elections will be held in March, and the success of the vaccination has been seen by analysts as the key to the chances of Netanyahu, a dominant figure in Israeli politics this century.