On Sunday, Israeli media reported that fast PCR tests would soon be made available for arrivals at the Ben Gurion Airport that will give results in just three to four hours, rather than taking 24 hours, as they do currently. There is no difference in reliability in these rapid and regular coronavirus PCR tests. However, since results would be obtained much faster, those arriving in Israel would have to deal with a much shorter quarantine period. But, the report also disclosed that the charges for these rapid PCR tests would be twice of a regular PCR test i.e. instead of NIS 80, they would cost NIS 160 ($50).
The media report indicated that whoever wins the tender for operating the airport’s testing complex will have to offer the standard as well as rapid PCR test to all arrivals. The Health Ministry promoted this move, as it can reduce the isolation period. Currently, people arriving in Israel have to quarantine until they get a negative test result, which is conducted upon arrival, or within a 24-hour period, whichever is first.
In other others, Israeli health organizations are gearing up to offer people at high risk in the country a new monoclonal antidrug. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the US had given its approval for Evusheld back in December and its first shipment is expected to reach Israel in the next couple of days. The drug has been developed by AstraZeneca and Health Maintenance Organizations plan on using it right away to prevent serious cases from increasing. The recipients eligible for the drug would include people who have preexisting conditions, which can suppress the immune system severely like people who have had bone marrow transplants.
The drug received approval from the FDA for people aged 12 and above, who have a weight of at least 40 kilograms, haven’t had COVID-19 previously and have not recently been exposed to anyone with the coronavirus. The drug is a combination of two antibodies and it is administered as two successive shots, one for each antibody, to the muscle. Evusheld can also be given to people who have had a history of severe reactions to COVID-19 vaccines, or have suffered from an adverse reaction to components of any of these vaccines. Monoclonal antibodies refer to proteins that are developed in the lab for mimicking the ability of the immune system to repel bacteria and viruses.
The antibodies that are used in Evusheld are called Cilgavimab and Tixagevimab and both of them specially target the spike protein in the coronavirus. They are designed to prevent the coronavirus from entering the patient’s cells. AstraZeneca conducted a clinical trial for the drug and it included 3,441 people who had gotten treatment and 1,731 who had been given a placebo. According to the initial analysis, people who had received the drug had about 77% chances of reduced risk of developing serious illness and this treatment offers protection for at least six months. But, additional follow-up will be required for the duration of the protection.