June 14, 2021

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Israel Not Likely to Reach Herd Immunity

3 min read

Sharon Alroy-Preis, the Head of the Public Health Services, believes that the country will not be able to reach herd immunity. The reason being that there are 2.5 million children in the State of Israel who cannot be vaccinated. The Head delivered this bleak news at a hearing of the Knesset on Sunday. 

Herd immunity takes place only when a sick person infects fewer people than they normally would because of the simple fact that the other person has been vaccinated. This was explained by Chief Innovation Officer for the Clalit Health Services, Ran Balicer. Balicer is also chairman of the National Expert Advisory Panel to the Israeli Government on the issue of coronavirus. 

He gave an example on the matter to explain it in simple terms. According to the chairman, if the number of people who are likely to be infected is three, two of whom are immune, then the country will have reached herd immunity. Therefore, the virus will not disseminate. 

Statements by the Head of Public Health Services were made on the day Israel started to emerge from almost 40 days of strict lockdown. As per her observations, the closure was somewhat successful as the reproduction rate, or R, fell from 1.3 to 0.99 on Sunday. Amongst the community of the ultra-Orthodox, the R stayed at 0.9 but, was 1.01 in Arabs. In addition, the rest of the society had an R of 1.05. 

At 7 am on Sunday, the 1,000-m restriction on traveling was lifted. National parks, outdoor archaeological sites, and nature reserves were reopened. Moreover, stores and restaurants were given permission to offer takeaway. One-on-one services resumed and employees, working in corporations that do not directly interact with the public, operated from their offices. 

Where schools are concerned, children are not expected to resume studies physically until Tuesday, at least. Alroy-Preis stressed that if people thought that the first injection of the vaccine would fix everything, they were wrong. She noted that there has been some new data, which has indicated that new variants exist in the country. Consequently, people are getting infected by these new mutations a second time. 

On Sunday night as well, children and their parents once again went to sleep unaware of what the upcoming week would hold. The government had debates late into the night, trying to come up with a new strategy to allow at least some children to return to school premises by Tuesday. 

The meeting was ended around midnight and announced that it would reconvene come Monday. However, there is a possibility that the meeting will once again be delayed due to the beginning of the trial that includes the Prime Minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu. In addition, the Greek Prime Minister’s arrival in the country could also be a reason for the postponement of the meeting. 

One plan for the resumption of physical studies has been suggested by Netanyahu, Yuli Edelstein, the Health Minister, Yoav Gallant, the Education Minister, and Israel Katz, the Finance Minister. But, the cabinet is yet to approve of this outline. 

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