Experts warn of sharp spike in daily COVID-19 cases in Israel, recommend vigilance

Without a change in conduct, no slowdown is expected, and Israel can expect 1,000 daily infections within about two weeks, the Hebrew University researchers said.

By Aryeh Savir, TPS

The number of daily Coronavirus (COVID-19) cases may climb to as much as 1,000 a day if the state does not take further action against the spread of the virus, a team of experts from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem warned .

The highly contagious Delta (Indian) COVID-19 variant entered the country with passengers who were infected abroad and did not abide by the quarantine requirements. The variant has spread to several cities and locations throughout Israel.

An IDF report shows that the Indian variant is 60% more contagious than the British strain, the dominant one in Israel, and causes 2.5 times more hospitalizations. However, the Pfizer-developed vaccine, with which the majority of Israelis were vaccinated, is effective against this variant.

The Hebrew University report published on Saturday night showed that the R coefficient is 1.5, leading to a doubling in the number of the new daily cases within about a week from about 300 to 600.

However, the researchers pointed out that due to the young age of most of the new cases, the increase in severe and moderate illness is significantly slow, and it is not yet possible to estimate to what extent the current wave of infection will have on morbidity.

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The researchers clarified that without a change in conduct, no slowdown in the infection rate is expected, and Israel can expect 1,000 daily infections within about two weeks.

“Waiting without change at this stage will require more drastic steps later on to achieve a similar effect,” the researchers warned.

The government has issued a number of directives to contend with the outbreaks, with an emphasis on Israelis returning from abroad who are importing new variants into the country, after the virus almost completely disappeared in the country.

In conclusion, the researchers noted that the Pfizer-developed vaccines are noticeably less effective in preventing infection than in the past, about 60-80%, compared to the Alpha variant with over 90%.

While the majority of Israel’s population over the age of 16 is vaccinated, the majority of the children are not. The vaccination pace is slow due to a lack of interest on the public’s part. About 35% of youth aged 12-19 received two vaccinations.

Over 5,627,000 Israeli citizens have received the first dose of the vaccine, some 60% of the entire population, and more than 5,174,000, about 55%, have received the second shot.

Some 85% of the adult population is vaccinated, and therefore the effect of this outbreak on the health system and its ability to contend with a mass influx of patients is projected to be minimal.

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Only 62 Israelis are hospitalized with COVID-19 and the number of patients hospitalized in serious condition remained low and fairly stable at 35, 16 of whom are on life support.