Israel's vaccination drive has moved up a gear with 150,000 people vaccinated on Wednesday for the second successive day. This brought the total number of people vaccinated to 800,000, the Ministry of Health reports, and at the current rate the number is expected to exceed 1 million by tomorrow morning.
Media reports in Israel quoting the Ministry of Health and health funds say that Israel only has enough doses for another week by which time more than two million people would have been vaccinated including most of the population over 60 and people at risk as well as frontline medical staff and care workers.
All Israelis are being inoculated with the Pfizer vaccine, meaning that an equal number of doses are being held back to those being administered so that a second jab can be given three weeks after the first. Israel reportedly has four to five million Pfizer doses but further supplies are not expected until February.
Israel has also ordered millions of doses of the Moderna and AstraZeneca vaccines. However, Moderna is unable to deliver any batches before March and the AstraZeneca vaccine, although approved by the regulator in the UK, is unlikely to be approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for a few months until there are further clarifications about the trial results, and Israel will not use a vaccine unless approved by the FDA.
Meanwhile, the number of new Covid-19 cases in Israel is proliferating. 5,618 people tested positive for Covid-19 yesterday in Israel, the Ministry of Health reports, the highest number for three months, and up nearly 70% week-on-week from 3,340 last Wednesday. 102,709 tests were carried out yesterday with 5.6% proving positive.
There are currently 639 people seriously ill with the virus in hospital, up from 609 yesterday, including 165 on ventilators, up from 154 yesterday. 420,000 Israelis have contracted Covid-19 since the start of the pandemic, 4.5% of Israel's population, and 3,314 people have died, including 22 over the past 24 hours, the Ministry of Health reports.
Senior Ministry of Health officials are complaining that Israel's third lockdown imposed since Sunday evening is not a proper lockdown, with schools still open and offices that do not receive the public still operating. Traffic on the roads is heavy making it impossible for police to properly enforce the lockdown and more restrictions are likely to be introduced next week.
However, senior health officials are cautiously confident that with the vaccination drive going so well, Israel could relax most restrictions within a month.
Published by Globes, Israel business news - en.globes.co.il - on December 31, 2020
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