Israel, World Leader in Vaccine Booster Shots, Hit by Surge in COVID Cases

Updated: September 16th, 2021 06:50 AM IST

Israel, world leader in vaccine booster shots, hit by surge in COVID cases - Newsweek

Israel, World Leader in Vaccine Booster Shots, Hit by Surge in COVID Cases

More than 10,000 new COVID-19 cases were recorded on September 13, with an average of 8,000 new infections each day as positive test rates continue to climb, according to Health Ministry figures.

"That is a record that did not exist in the previous waves," Health Ministry Director-General Nachman Ash said via video call to the Knesset Constitution, Law, and Justice Committee on Tuesday, as reported by The Times of Israel.

"A week ago we were in a clear downward trend; in recent days weve been seeing that decline stop, and the virus reproduction number is [again] above 1," Ash said, referring to the R number, which indicates how many people each virus carrier will infect. "I hoped that we would see a clearer drop, but we are still not seeing it," he added.

Zarka said the ministry had urged the government to restrict large gatherings and ban events such as a major student festival in Eilat, crowds at soccer matches, and an annual pilgrimage by tens of thousands of Israelis to Uman, Ukraine, to visit the grave of a venerated rabbi.

"Given that the virus is here and will continue to be here, we also need to prepare for a fourth injection," he told Kan public radio on September 4, but did not specify when the shot would be administered.

Zarka also said that the next booster shot may be modified to better protect against new variants of the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19, such as the highly infectious Delta strain. "This is our life from now on, in waves," he said, adding that the Health Ministry was working on the assumption that it will need to deal with a fifth wave of virus infections in the future.

It was one of the first countries to roll out COVID-19 booster shots to its older population last month, after health officials reported new data indicating a decline in vaccine protection over time.

Individuals 60 and older who are particularly vulnerable to COVID-19 have been eligible to receive a Pfizer booster shot in Israel since the end of July. In August, the age of eligibility for a booster shot was expanded to anyone over 40.

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