States Divest Unilever Stock Over Ben & Jerry’s Boycott



State treasurers in New Jersey and Arizona are divesting approximately $325 million in investments from consumer goods giant Unilever after subsidiary Ben & Jerry said it will stop selling its ice cream in Israeli-occupied territories.

In July, the company said in a statement that it was “inconsistent with our values for Ben & Jerry’s ice cream to be sold in the Occupied Palestinian Territory.” It said it has informed the licensee that manufacturers the ice cream in the region that it will not renew its license when it expires at the end of 2022. Despite leaving the Palestinian territories, Ben & Jerry’s said it will stay in Israel through a different arrangement that has not yet been determined.

A New Jersey law enacted in 2016 requires state pension funds to withdraw investments from any company that boycotts the goods, products, or businesses of Israel or companies operating in Israel or territories occupied by Israel. The law requires the state to create a blacklist of companies that boycott Israel.

Author(s): Michael Katz

Publication Date: 20 Sept 2021

Publication Site: ai-CIO

New Jersey set to shed $182 million Unilever assets over Ben & Jerry’s boycott



A New Jersey state treasury official said on Wednesday it is set to divest $182 million in Unilever Plc stock and bonds held by its pension funds over the restriction of sales by the consumer giant’s Ben & Jerry’s ice cream brand in Israeli-occupied Palestinian territories.

It is the latest action by a U.S. state challenging Unilever over Ben & Jerry’s move in July to end a license for its ice cream to be sold in the Israeli-occupied West Bank. Ben & Jerry’s said selling its products there was “inconsistent with its values.”

New Jersey’s Division of Investment had said on Tuesday it made a preliminary determination that maintaining its investment in Unilever would be a breach of a state law barring it from investing in companies boycotting Israel. It gave the company 90 days to request a modification of the order.

Author(s): Ross Kerber

Publication Date: 15 Sept 2021

Publication Site: Yahoo News

Israel is planning to administer FOURTH Covid shot which could be adjusted to fight new variants as country battles wave of infections despite hugely successful vaccine roll-out




Israel is set to begin preparations to administer fourth doses of the coronavirus vaccines as the country deals with soaring cases despite its trail-blazing roll-out of jabs. 

The country’s national coronavirus czar Salman Zarka said the country needs to prepare for a fourth injection, which could be modified to better protect against new variants of the virus.     


‘It seems that if we learn the lessons from the fourth wave, we must consider the [possibility of subsequent] waves with the new variants, such as the new one from South America,’ he said at the time. 

‘Thinking about this and the waning of the vaccines and the antibodies, it seems every few months — it could be once a year or five or six months — we’ll need another shot.’

He added that he expects Israel to be given out vaccines that had been specially adapted to cope with different variants of the virus by late 2021 or early 2022.  

While Israel is seeing record case numbers in its fourth wave, the jabs are still protecting against severe illness with Covid deaths running at about half of the level of its second wave.

Author(s): Gemma Parry

Publication Date: 5 September 2021

Publication Site: Daily Mail UK

Israeli data: How can efficacy vs. severe disease be strong when 60% of hospitalized are vaccinated?




These efficacies are quite high and suggests the vaccines are doing a very good job of preventing severe disease in both older and young cohorts. These levels of efficacy are much higher than the 67.5% efficacy estimate we get if the analysis is not stratified by age. How can there be such a discrepancy between the age-stratified and overall efficacy numbers?

This is an example of Simpson’s Paradox, a well-known phenomenon in which misleading results can sometimes be obtained from observational data in the presence of confounding factors.

Author(s): Jeffrey Morris

Publication Date: 17 August 2021

Publication Site: Covid-19 Data Science

COVID and Simpson’s Paradox: Why So Many Vaccinated People are Among the Current Wave of Hospitalizations




when you’ve got really steep differences between subpopulations and the subpopulations are of very different sizes, the overall population average will be very different from simply looking at the average of the two populations.


– The base risk rates for each group are extremely different (3.9 per 100K for young, and 91.9 per 100K for old)
– The percentage each subpopulation makes up in the larger population is very different (67% young, 33% old)
– The vaccination rates are very different by population (76% young, 92% old)

Author(s): Mary Pat Campbell

Publication Date: 19 August 2021

Publication Site: STUMP at substack

Why has America’s vaccination programme slowed so much?




ON JULY 4TH President Joe Biden stood on the White House lawn to declare that America was nearing independence from the coronavirus. But with covid-19 not fully “vanquished”, he called upon his fellow citizens to get vaccinated, telling them that “it’s the most patriotic thing you can do.” About 55% of Americans over the age of 12 have now been fully vaccinated, and a further 10% have had the first of two doses. But in recent weeks America’s vaccination rate has slowed markedly. In April 3m doses were administered each day; since June that figure has fallen to an average of 1m per day.

There are three possible explanations for this slow-down. The first is that it is typical for vaccination rates to fall as more people are jabbed, since those in cities and other easy-to-reach areas are likely to have been targeted already. Yet America does not appear to have reached such a threshold. Other rich countries, such as sparsely populated Canada, continued to vaccinate at a decent clip until about 75% of their populations had received their first dose (see left-hand chart). Germany, which has vaccinated a similar proportion of its citizens as America, is currently vaccinating at nearly three times the rate.

Publication Date: 8 July 2021

Publication Site: The Economist

Patterns of COVID-19 pandemic dynamics following deployment of a broad national immunization program




Studies on the real-life impact of the BNT162b2 vaccine, recently authorized for the prevention of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), are urgently needed. Here, we analysed the temporal dynamics of the number of new COVID-19 cases and hospitalization in Israel following a rapid vaccination campaign initiated on December 20th, 2020. We conducted a retrospective descriptive analysis of data originating from the Israeli Ministry of Health (MOH) from March 2020 to February 2021. In order to distill the possible effect of the vaccinations from other factors, including a third lockdown imposed in Israel on January 2021, we compared the time-dependent changes in number of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations between (1) individuals aged 60 years and older, eligible to receive the vaccine earlier, and younger age groups; (2) the latest lockdown (which was imposed in parallel to the vaccine rollout) versus the previous lockdown, imposed on September 2020; (3) early-vaccinated cities compared to late-vaccinated cities; and (4) early-vaccinated geographical statistical areas (GSAs) compared to late-vaccinated GSAs. In mid-January, the number of COVID-19 cases and hospitalization started to decline, with a larger and earlier decrease among older individuals, followed by younger age groups, by the order in which they were prioritized for vaccination. This fast and early decline in older individuals was more evident in early-vaccinated compared to late-vaccinated cities. Such a pattern was not observed in the previous lockdown. Our analysis demonstrates evidence for the real-life impact of a national vaccination campaign in Israel on the pandemic dynamics. We believe that our findings have major public health implications in the struggle against the COVID-19 pandemic, including the public ’s perception of the need for and benefit of nationwide vaccination campaigns. More studies aimed at assessing the effectiveness and impact of vaccination both on the individual and on the population level, with longer followup, are needed.

Author(s): Hagai Rossman, Smadar Shilo, Tomer Meir, Malka Gorfine, Uri Shalit, Eran Segal

Publication Date: 8 March 2021

Publication Site: MedRXiV

Israel’s “green pass” is an early vision of how we leave lockdown



Israel’s vaccine passport was released on February 21, to help the country emerge from a month-long lockdown. Vaccinated people can download an app that displays their “green pass” when they are asked to show it. The app can also display proof that someone has recovered from covid-19. (Many proposed passport systems offer multiple ways to show you are not a danger, such as proof of a recent negative test. The Israeli government says that option will come to the app soon, which will be especially useful for children too young to receive an approved vaccine.) Officials hope the benefits of the green pass will encourage vaccination among Israelis who have been hesitant, many of whom are young. 

“People who get vaccinated need to know that something has changed for them, that they can ease up,” says Nadav Eyal, a prominent television journalist. “People want to know that they can have some normalcy back.”

Author(s): Cat Ferguson, Joshua Mitnick

Publication Date: 1 March 2021

Publication Site: MIT Technology Review

Covid-19 Vaccine ‘Passports’ Raise Ethics Concerns, Logistical Hurdles



In Israel, a vaccine passport was launched last week allowing those who are inoculated to go to hotels and gyms. Saudi Arabia now issues an app-based health passport for those inoculated, while Iceland’s government is doling out vaccine passports to facilitate foreign travel. Last month, President Biden issued executive orders asking government agencies to assess the feasibility of creating digital Covid-19 vaccination certificates.

Proponents of the plans say they will enable battered economies to reopen, even as vaccines are still being rolled out, allowing people to enjoy leisure activities and go to work safe in the knowledge they aren’t harming others or at risk themselves. It could also act as an incentive for people to get the shot.

The concept is potentially fraught with pitfalls. It could discriminate against minority communities, who are less likely to accept the vaccines, according to national surveys, or young people, who are less likely to be given priority to receive them.There are questions about the ethics of granting businesses access to peoples’ health records.

Author(s): Max Colchester, Felicia Schwartz

Publication Date: 26 February 2021

Publication Site: Wall Street Journal

Green pass: how are Covid vaccine passports working for Israel?



In Israel, there is concern that the unvaccinated population, whatever their reasons, will be left behind or shunned. Small protests warning that green passes create a new hierarchy in society have been held.

Fresh ethical questions were raised last week when the Knesset, the country’s parliament, agreed to give local authorities personal details of unvaccinated residents to help them carry out targeted inoculation campaigns. Tamar Zandberg, a lawmaker, said it was a “slippery slope” for personal privacy.

Author(s): Oliver Holmes, Quique Kierszenbaum

Publication Date: 28 February 2021

Publication Site: The Guardian

Pfizer’s Covid-19 Vaccine Is Equally Effective for Young and Old, Israeli Study Finds



The Covid-19 vaccine from Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE is equally effective across all age groups, including those over 60, according to a new Israeli study, in a boost of confidence to global vaccine efforts.

The Pfizer vaccine provided around 94% protection against developing coronavirus symptoms across all age groups above 16 a week after the second shot of a recommended two-dose regimen, according to a study by researchers from Israel’s Clalit Research Institute and Harvard University. The study also found the vaccine is 92% effective in preventing severe disease.

The results are in line with the vaccine maker’s own clinical trial, but the large size of the study, which covered nearly 1.2 million people, provides more precise insight into older age groups that were sparsely covered by the drugmaker’s trial, according to the study’s authors.

Author(s): Dov Lieber

Publication Date: 24 February 2021

Publication Site: Wall Street Journal

A leaked report shows Pfizer’s vaccine is conquering covid-19 in its largest real-world test



A leaked scientific report jointly prepared by Israel’s health ministry and Pfizer claims that the company’s covid-19 vaccine is stopping nine out of 10 infections and the country could approach herd immunity by next month.

The study, based on the health records of hundreds of thousands of Israelis, finds that the vaccine may sharply curtail transmission of the coronavirus. “High vaccine uptake can meaningfully stem the pandemic and offers hope for eventual control of the pandemic as vaccination programs ramp up across the rest of the world,” according to the authors.

The nationwide study was described by the Israeli news website Ynet on Thursday, and a copy was obtained by MIT Technology Review.

Author(s): Joshua Mitnick, Antonio Regalado

Publication Date: 19 February 2021

Publication Site: MIT Technology Review