Israel begins vaccinations amid concerns over mutation

What happened: Yesterday Israel began to vaccinate thousands of medical staff along with prominent public figures including President Rivlin and IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kochavi.

  • On Saturday night Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Health Minister Yuli Edelstein were the first to receive the vaccination on live television as part of the effort to prove the vaccine is safe and set a personal example.
  • Beginning today, citizens over the age of 60 and those at high-risk will begin to be vaccinated, with over 210,000 appointments already made.
  • At the Coronavirus Cabinet meeting yesterday Prime Minister Netanyahu related to the spread of the mutated virus in the UK.  Netanyahu said, “We are doing everything to prevent the mutation from entering Israel. Today we made a tough decision but one that is dictated by reality. We closed the skies to all flights to Israel from Britain, Denmark and South Africa.”
  • The Coronavirus Cabinet decided that everyone returning from Britain, Denmark and South Africa will be quarantined in designated coronavirus hotels. All foreign nationals from Britain, Denmark and South Africa will be prevented from entering Israel.
  • Coronavirus commissioner Prof. Nachman Ash warned the cabinet that without any new restrictions, Israel would see between 1,340 and 1,900 seriously ill patients and between 3,085 and 3,700 deaths within the next three months. If a strict closure were imposed for five weeks, there would be 800 seriously ill patients and 1,250 additional deaths, and if a full lockdown were imposed for three weeks, there would be 700 seriously ill patients and 1,100 deaths.

Context: According to the Health Ministry 2,821 new cases were confirmed yesterday from 70,000 tests showing a 4.1 per cent positivity rate.

  • There are currently 24,999 cases in Israel, with 456 people in serious condition being treated in hospitals, and 117 patients on ventilators.
  • Eight people died yesterday from the disease, taking the overall death toll in Israel to 3,101.
  • According to Home Front Command data, more than 90 per cent of the people who have died are aged 60 and above.
  • 30 per cent of the total cases in Israel are from the Arab-Israel community while 16 per cent of cases were from the Ultra-Orthodox sector and 53 per cent were from the rest of the public.
  • Amid speculation of early elections the Knesset’s Constitution Committee approved on first reading special provisions to conduct an elections during the coronavirus pandemic. Central Elections Committee head Orly Adas announced that the committee will establish “vote and drive” centres. In addition, special voting stations will also be set up in nursing homes and for those in isolation.

Looking ahead: All flights from the UK will be suspended from midnight tonight.

  • Following the discovery of the mutation in the UK and in wake of the rise in the infection rate in Israel, the Coronavirus Cabinet will reconvene today to discuss reimposing another complete closure. The lockdown could be imposed within the next few days.
  • Early next week vaccinations will begin in old age homes. This was delayed over concerns that due to storage issues, portions of the medicine would go to waste.
  • Also next week the IDF will begin vaccinating its personnel across the country.
  • According to Director of Public Health Services in the Health Ministry Dr. Sharon Alroy-Preis, in the next few weeks, Israel will have enough doses to vaccinate two million people.
  • By the middle of next year it is anticipated there will be enough vaccines for 7.4 million people in Israel and by the end of the year enough for 12.5 million.

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