- Title: Israel's COVID-19 vaccine boosters show signs of taming Delta
- Date: 24th August 2021
- Summary: JERUSALEM (AUGUST 17, 2021) (REUTERS) WOMAN BEING VACCINATED AT QUICK VACCINATION CENTRE PEOPLE AT VACCINATION CENTRE MAN RECEIVING VACCINATION MORE OF VACCINATION CENTRE MEDIC PREPARING JAB
- Embargoed: 7th September 2021 10:29
- Keywords: COVID-19 Delta Health Israel booster coronavirus third dose vaccine
- Location: JERUSALEM/ KFAR SABA AND KFAR QASSEM, ISRAEL
- City: JERUSALEM/ KFAR SABA AND KFAR QASSEM, ISRAEL
- Country: Israel
- Topics: Health/Medicine,Middle East
- Reuters ID: LVA003ERN3MMF
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: Less than a month into a COVID-19 vaccine booster drive, Israel is seeing signs of an impact on the country's high infection and severe illness rates fuelled by the fast-spreading Delta variant, officials and scientists say.
Delta hit Israel in June, just as the country began to reap the benefits of one of the world's fastest vaccine roll-outs.
With an open economy and most curbs scrapped, Israel went from single-digit daily infections and zero deaths to around 7,500 daily cases last week, 600 people hospitalized in serious condition and more than 150 people dying in that week alone.
On July 30, it began administering a third dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine to people over 60, the first country to do so. On Thursday (August 19), it expanded eligibility to 40-year-olds and up whose second dose was given at least 5 months prior, saying the age may drop further.
In the past 10 days, the pandemic is abating among the first age group, more than a million of whom have received a third vaccine dose, according to Israeli health ministry data and scientists.
The rate of disease spread among vaccinated people age 60 and over - known as the reproduction rate - began falling steadily around Aug. 13 and has dipped below 1, indicating that each infected person is transmitting the virus to fewer than one other person. A reproduction rate of less than 1 means an outbreak is subsiding.
Scientists said booster shots are having an impact on infections, but other factors are likely contributing to the decline as well.
On Monday (August 24) Israeli Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz called on the public to get the third dose.
" We see that the efficacy of the vaccine declines after five to six months, it's declining. Therefore those who receive the vaccine five to six months ago, need to get the third dose, and without the third dose, he is far less protected. And this is what we are doing now, we are the first in the world to do that and Israeli citizens should use this opportunity and get vaccinated quickly," he said during a tour at the Arab town of Kfar Qassem.
Since Delta's surge, Israel has reimposed indoor mask-wearing, limitations on gatherings, and ramped up rapid testing.
Its "living with COVID" policy will be tested come September, when schools reopen after the summer break and when the Jewish holiday season starts, with families traditionally gathering to celebrate.
(Production: Ilan Rosenberg, Sinan Abu Mayzer)
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