Israeli health official: Even best vaccine scenario shows pandemic will rage through March

Public failing to comply with health enforcement, vaccines will take time to distribute.

By Paul Shindman, World Israel News

A senior Israeli health official says that even under the best scenario of vaccines arriving and being distributed, the pandemic in Israel is expected to continue to rage until at least through March, Ynet reported Monday.

Israel’s coronavirus numbers continue to surge upward as the country waits for the delivery of millions of doses of vaccine and the government hesitates about which steps to take next, leaving health officials frustrated.

At a meeting Sunday of the “corona cabinet” of government ministers supervising the pandemic, the Health Ministry’s head of the health services, Dr. Sharon Elrai-Price, told the legislators that in the most optimistic scenario for vaccines, they should be prepared for the epidemic to continue into spring.

“Everything we tried in terms of enforcement does not work,” Elrai-Price said.

The head of the national coronavirus task force, Prof. Nachman Ash, warned the government that action had to be taken immediately.

“The morbidity picture and the spread indices indicate a new outbreak of the disease in Israel,” Ash said. “The outbreak trends are exponential and require immediate action to prevent a third wave.”

After hours of discussion, the cabinet meeting recessed late Sunday with no decisions and will convene again Monday evening to discuss a series of measures, including new closures of businesses, reducing the density of public transportation and cancelling school in towns and cities where there are already rising infection rates.

The ministers will also discuss the feasibility of imposing night curfews in advance of the Chanukah holiday that begins Thursday and traditionally sees large gatherings.

Health Minister statistics released Monday morning showed 1,251 new cases in the past day with a 3.3% positivity rate for coronavirus tests. The number of active cases in Israel rose to 13,158 with 564 Israeli hospitalized, 342 of them in serious condition, and the death toll stands at 2,917.

Preparations are being made to continue to receive, store and distribute the millions of doses of coronavirus vaccine that are expected to start arriving in the coming weeks.

Freezers that can keep the vaccines at minus-80 degrees are already ready to receive about four million doses of vaccine from the American company Pfizer and another six million doses produced by Moderna.

The vaccines of both companies are sensitive to environmental changes such as light or shaking, so they will be delivered immediately in packages of a thousand to the health maintenance organizations or hospitals, Channel 13 reported. From the moment they are removed from the deep freeze the vaccines are only good for five days,