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Monique Curet
By Monique Curet August 9, 2021

Facebook post misleads on cases and outcomes among Israel’s fully vaccinated

If Your Time is short

• Israel’s cases are at a fraction of the peak in January, and vaccines have been shown to protect against hospitalization and severe illness. 

• Published reports indicate that half of new COVID-19 infections in Israel are in those who are fully vaccinated.

Israel led the world with its early and speedy vaccination campaign, but with COVID-19 infection rates on the rise there, the country now finds itself in the crosshairs of vaccine skeptics. 

"Pfizer vaccine now completely worthless in Israel as >80% of all COVID-19 patients were previously vaccinated," read one viral Facebook post

The post was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Facebook.)

The post misleads by saying the vaccine is "completely worthless" in Israel, where cases are a fraction of the peak number in January and vaccines have been shown to protect against hospitalization and severe illness. And the claim that more than 80% of COVID-19 patients were previously vaccinated is not supported by published reports that include information from Israel’s Ministry of Health.

The post is an image of a tweet from a group called COVID-19 Evidence Based Clinical Response Panel, whose Twitter account has been suspended for violating Twitter’s rules.

Several news reports from U.S. and Isreali media indicate that beginning in late June and continuing until now, about 50% of new infections in Israel are in people who have been fully vaccinated. 

The 50% figure appears high, but it’s not necessarily unexpected. Researchers typically expect that in places with high vaccination rates, vaccinated people will constitute a relatively high percentage of new cases. 

"The more vaccinated a population, the more we'll hear of the vaccinated getting infected," epidemiologist Katelyn Jetelina, of the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, wrote in June

For the percentage of COVID-19 cases in vaccinated people, the post cites a chart with data for June 27 to July 3 that it says comes from the Israel Ministry of Health Dashboard. The post’s chart includes age groups, number of cases in the vaccinated, number of cases in the unvaccinated and percentage of cases in the vaccinated. We were unable to locate that chart or any single chart on the ministry’s dashboard that contains similar categories of data. 

While COVID-19 infections have been on the rise in Israel, the average number of cases reported each day is currently at 38% of the peak on Jan. 16, when the highest daily average was reported, according to Reuters. Among Israelis who were fully vaccinated and experienced breakthrough infections, COVID-19 vaccines were 88% effective in preventing hospitalization and 91% effective against severe illness. 

Also, among the fully vaccinated, 8 in 10 of those who had breakthrough infections did not spread the virus to others in public places such as concerts, restaurants, gyms or event halls, Health Ministry data indicated. 

Misinformation about vaccine performance in Israel has been plentiful. PolitiFact recently debunked another claim that misleadingly compared COVID-19 reinfection rates among the unvaccinated and vaccinated to gauge protection against the virus.

Our ruling

A Facebook post claimed, "Pfizer vaccine now completely worthless in Israel as >80% of all COVID-19 patients were previously vaccinated," citing data it says comes from the Israel Ministry of Health Dashboard. 

Evidence does not support the claim that vaccines are now completely worthless in Israel, where cases are at a fraction of the peak in January and vaccines have been shown to protect against hospitalization and severe illness. 

We were unable to locate the data cited in the claim or any single chart on the ministry’s dashboard that contained similar categories of data. But published reports indicate that half of new COVID-19 infections in Israel are in those who have been fully vaccinated.

We rate this claim False.

Our Sources

Boston Globe, "Israel sees waning coronavirus vaccine effectiveness," Aug. 1, 2021

Facebook post, July 31, 2021

Haaretz, "Israel COVID Cases Break Another Two-month Record," June 24, 2021

Israel Ministry of Health, COVID-19 data tracker, cases and deaths dashboard, accessed Aug. 8, 2021

MIT Medical, "Breakthrough infections: What you need to know," Aug. 5, 2021

PolitiFact, "Reinfection rates do not tell the whole story about protection against COVID-19," Aug. 2, 2021

Reuters, "Reuters COVID-19 tracker, Israel," accessed Aug. 9, 2021

Substack, "Your Local Epidemiologist: Israel, 50% of infected are vaccinated, and base rate bias," June 28, 2021

Times of Israel, "80% of vaccinated COVID carriers didn’t infect anyone in public spaces — report," July 25, 2021

Twitter profile, accessed Aug. 8, 2021

Wall Street Journal, "Delta variant outbreak in Israel infects some vaccinated adults," June 25, 2021

 

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Facebook post misleads on cases and outcomes among Israel’s fully vaccinated

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