(See updates below.)
By early March, Israel had vaccinated about 90% of its 65+ population and about 50% of its entire population. Covid deaths had been decreasing since the end of January, as expected, although not any faster than in some other countries with a very low vaccination rate, such as South Africa.
Concerningly, however, Israel has seen a renewed and continued increase in all-cause mortality since mid-February; in fact, by March 21, Israel reported the highest excess mortality of all countries participating in Euromomo (see figure above). In contrast, many other European countries currently report a post winter wave negative excess mortality.
The cause behind this renewed increase in Israeli all-cause mortality appears to be unclear. According to Israeli newspaper YNet, the director of an Israeli clinic explained that they are currently seeing “a murky wave of heart attacks”. The director believes that this might be due to the “persistent stressful situation” and the “neglect of preventive medical care”.
Although quite a few cases of post-vaccination heart muscle inflammation, heart failure and heart attacks have been reported in Israel since December (see e.g. 1, 2, 3), the hospital director argues that “a connection to heart damage from the vaccine has not yet been proven to be significant.”
Nevertheless, given the paramount global importance of this question, Israeli and international public health authorities may want to answer it as quickly as possible.
Update, April 8
The latest data provided by the Israeli Central Bureau of Statistics (updated on April 6 with data until March 14) confirms a substantial increase in deaths in weeks 9 and 10:
The latest Euromomo update also confirms an increase in Israeli mortality (65+) from week 9 to week 10, but predicts a steep decrease from week 10 to week 12. However, it is unclear if this latest decrease is based on preliminary (non-public) data or if it is just an extrapolation.
SPR will keep monitoring the situation.
Comparison: Decrease in covid deaths
Daily covid deaths in Israel (high vaccination rate), Sweden (low vaccination rate), and South Africa (very low vaccination rate): the decrease since late January has been almost identical.
The situation in Israel
A woman describing the situation in Israel (6 minutes). The full video is 13 minutes.