The four major Israeli health funds said they were preparing to take in people over 60 for a coronavirus booster, as Israelis were banned from traveling to four other countries and the Green Pass came back into effect.
The Department of Health’s Coronavirus Vaccination Committee voted by an almost unanimous majority of 56 to 1 to give the third injection of the Pfizer vaccine to elderly people who were stung more than five months ago in a meeting which ran from 9 p.m. to midnight Wednesday, despite a third shot is still not approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration.
President Isaac Herzog will receive the country’s first recall on Friday.
Maccabi health services said they would start vaccinating on Friday. Other health funds said they would start making appointments and offering injections on Sunday.
“Our strategy is clear: to save life and safeguard the daily routine in the State of Israel,” Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said.
He explained that the decision was based on considerable research and analysis, as well as “the increase and risk of the Delta variant wave.” Israel has already vaccinated 2,000 immunocompromised people with a third dose without serious adverse events. Now we are rolling out a national third dose campaign. We will share all the information we have with the rest of the global community as we move forward. “
On Thursday morning, Professor Nimrod Maimon, head of the Magen Avot V’Imahot program, met with representatives of assisted living facilities across the country and said the injections would be administered immediately at their homes.
The Israeli Society of Gerontology also said it was preparing to administer the tests to its residents. The company represents around 100 nursing and geriatric hospitals.
The move comes a day after Pfizer told its investors in a presentation that their research showed that a third dose of the vaccine increased antibodies by five to 11 times. The company said it hopes to seek approval for emergency use of the additional fire during August.
The Delta variant quickly spread across Israel.
Some 2,177 people were diagnosed on Wednesday, the Health Ministry reported Thursday evening, with 2.36% of those testing positive. There were 151 people in serious condition, 26 of whom were intubated.
A 38-year-old unvaccinated coronavirus patient treated at Soroka Medical Center died Thursday evening. He had no underlying medical condition, the hospital said. On admission, his condition rapidly deteriorated until he was finally ventilated and placed on an ECMO machine.
“Without further action and widespread vaccination of the public, the number of new severe cases is expected to increase to such an extent that it could lead to congestion in community health clinics and hospitals,” reports the Coronavirus National Information and Knowledge. says the center.
While the majority of new cases are young people – including unvaccinated children – the country is starting to see more and more older people vaccinated five and six months ago become infected. Preliminary research by the Department of Health showed that the Pfizer vaccine was only 16% effective against the Delta variant in people vaccinated so long ago.
In addition, it is estimated that for people aged 60 and over, the vaccine’s effectiveness in preventing serious illness has increased from 97% to 81%.
“Eighty-one percent is still effective, but the gap is dramatic,” Professor Eran Segal of the Weizmann Institute of Science tweeted Thursday morning. “Because if previously the risk of a vaccinated person aged 60 and over becoming seriously ill was 3%, it is now 19%, which means six times that.”
To help stop the spread of the infection, the Knesset on Thursday approved a request by the Department of Health to add the United Kingdom, Turkey, Cyprus and Georgia to the list of countries in which Israelis are banned from to travel.
At a meeting of the Constitution, Law and Justice Committee, the head of public health, Professor Sharon Alroy-Preis, said the ministry intends to declare Greece, Bulgaria and the United Arab Emirates countries banned next week – some of the most popular summer tourist destinations. .
The list of banned countries already included Uzbekistan, Argentina, Belarus, Brazil, South Africa, India, Mexico, Spain, Kyrgyzstan and Russia.
She also said that Italy and France will enter the list of orange countries, those countries from which all those who have or have not been vaccinated must go into isolation when they return to Israel.
Alroy-Preis said she does not believe the current restrictions at Ben Gurion Airport are effective enough to stop the spread of the virus, describing a situation of “exponential growth” in imported diseases.
According to her, some 800 sick people have entered through the country’s border crossings – mainly through the airport – and currently Israel is registering an average of 100 to 250 new cases from abroad per day.
She said some people tested positive on their first screening at the airport and others when tested on the seventh day after arriving in a bid to break out of isolation.
Although she also said that only around 10% of people returning from overseas take the second coronavirus test on the seventh day.
In addition, the Green Pass program was reinstated on Thursday.
The program requires someone over the age of 12 to present a certificate of vaccination or recovery or a negative coronavirus test taken within the last 72 hours to enter an event or place with more than 100 people.
The pass applies to cultural and sporting events, hotels and tourist attractions, gyms and training studios, restaurants, bars, cafes, cafeterias, conferences and synagogues.
The government demanded that the new Green Pass rules remain in effect until August 25, but the Knesset Committee on Constitution, Law and Justice did not approve the plan until August 7, the eve of the day when Israel should deploy its rapid antigen testing system.
The committee said it wanted the government to develop a plan to fund these rapid tests first.
To help enforce mask-wearing on public transport, Bennett and Transport Minister Merav Michaeli announced that some 400 inspectors would be hired for the next three months, with an option to renew their contracts as needed thereafter.