The number of Israelis re-infected by the South African variant rises to 3, giving cause for concern

The Ministry of Health this week registered a further 14 confirmed cases of the South African variant in Israel, bringing the total number of such infections to 44 with 124 confirmed contacts and 36 chains of infection. Health officials believe the number is significantly higher.

In late January, the first Israeli, a 57-year-old man from central Israel, was re-infected with South Africa coronavirus variant after returning from a trip to Turkey.

The Ministry of Health said in a statement that it “sought to investigate the extent of the outbreak” in Israel’s northern “triangle” region, made up of Arab towns and villages, where the rollout of the vaccination has lagged behind the rest of the country. due to, among other things, distrust of the central government.

The mutation has reached at least 32 countries and caused panic across the globe as countries continue to struggle to advance their vaccination campaigns.

Israel has vaccinated more than 3.9 million of its citizens, more than 40 percent of the total population of about 9 million. Approx. 2.5 million have received the second dose.

Last month, US pharmaceutical giant Pfizer and German biotech company BioNTech released results from laboratory tests that, although not yet peer-reviewed, showed that their common vaccine is effective against the N501Y mutation found in both British and South African varieties.

In a statement, the companies said the preliminary findings “do not indicate the need for a new vaccine to tackle the new variants”, but they are “ready to respond” with updates to their shoots if new strains are needed.

Another vaccine, developed by Oxford University and the British-Swedish pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca, was shown to be only minimally effective in preventing mild and moderate forms of covid-19 caused by the variant first identified in South Africa.

Sharon Alroy-Preis, head of the Israeli Ministry of Health’s public health service, said much was still unknown about the link between vaccine immunity and the new coronavirus variants, but the South African tribe is thought to be more transmissible.

“We do not yet have evidence that any of the variants are completely resistant to the vaccine, but there is some preliminary evidence that the effectiveness of the vaccine may be somewhat less against the South African variant,” she told Kan- the public. TV station last month.

Coronavirus variants have spurred worldwide concern that long-term vaccination campaigns may not be enough to stem future, potentially more serious waves of infection, and in the short term may further delay countries’ plans to lift coronavirus restrictions in public life.

January 25, Israel closed its only functioning international airport, Ben Gurion, “to prevent the onset of virus mutations and to ensure that we move forward quickly with our vaccination campaign,” said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. He has since added that he is likely to extend the closure after the February 20 deadline, although Israel is expected on Saturday to increase the quota for allowed inbound passengers to 2,000 a day.

However, as millions of Israelis continue to be vaccinated and the number of new cases decreases, the government also plans to launch a “green certificate” program as early as next week to enable vaccine recipients to enter public spaces such as stadiums, concert halls, or performance venues.

At the same time, the government is monitoring a fifth national lockdown ahead of the carnival-like Jewish holiday Purim on February 25, which last year was considered a super-spreading event, especially among ultra-Orthodox Israelis.

“We do not want to stop people from celebrating the holidays and ruining all the fun, but there is still a great deal of concern,” said Israel’s coronavirus, Nachman Ash.

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