NY coronavirus mutation touches down in Israel

It’s believed that a family became infected after contact with a person who had recently arrived in Israel from New York.

By Lauren Marcus, World Israel News

A variant of the coronavirus originally identified in New York has been found in Israel, Health Ministry officials told local media on Tuesday.

Three people from the same family were found to be carrying the B.1.526 mutation. It’s believed that they became infected after contact with a person who had recently arrived in Israel from New York, KAN News reported.

Channel 13 News reported that the family was refusing to cooperate with epidemiological investigators from the Health Ministry, sparking concerns that the variant could be spreading throughout the country.

Because viruses continuously mutate in order to overcome environmental challenges and spread more efficiently, mutations of the coronavirus pose a challenge for those working to stop the pandemic.

The South African strain of the coronavirus has shown to be more vaccine-resistant than other strains, and the British mutation is thought to be considerably more infectious.

Israeli Health Ministry officials say the British mutation is found among nearly all coronavirus carriers in Israel today.

Channel 12 News reported that the New York variant could theoretically re-infect people who have recovered from the coronavirus and weaken the vaccine’s efficacy.

KAN News reported that the head of public health at the Health Ministry, Dr. Sharon Alroy-Preis, said that if a vaccine-resistant variant spreads in Israel, “the entire vaccination campaign has gone to waste.”

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The arrival of the New York variant has led to questions about Health Ministry policies granting privileges to vaccinated people.

At the beginning of Israel’s vaccine roll-out, the Health Ministry promised that people who got the jab would not have to enter quarantine if they came into contact with an infected person.

With the arrival of new mutations, health officials are seriously considering cancelling the policy.

Another benefit for the vaccinated — being able to fly without the need for a negative coronavirus test before take-off, and no quarantine after arriving back in Israel — has already been quietly cancelled by the Health Ministry.