Only 5.5% of Israelis Have Coronavirus Antibodies

A technician carries out a diagnostic test for coronavirus in a lab at the Ziv Medical Center, in Tzfas. (David Cohen/Flash90)

There’s a long way to go for Israel to reach herd immunity.

A serological survey published Thursday reveals that only 5.5% of Israel’s population has coronavirus antibodies, meaning it is far lower than 60% needed for the public to develop herd immunity to COVID-19.

While Israel has seen a massive resurgence of coronavirus over the past few weeks, and with it some speculated that a high infection rate might eventually lead to herd immunity, which occurs when a large portion of a community becomes immune to a disease, yet it seems that there’s still time to go for that.

The survey was conducted by the Health Ministry between July and September of this year. Among men, the presence of antibodies in 4.9% of those tested was higher than the 3.1% in women, while among children in the 10-18 age group, the presence of antibodies stood at 8.1%.

The presence of antibodies was highest in the country among residents of Yerushalayim and the surrounding communities with 9.5%, followed by Tel Aviv and its suburbs with 2.2% and Haifa and its suburbs with 1.1%.

A high level of antibodies in blood does not necessarily ensure long-term immunity against the pathogen.

The Health Ministry, therefore, reiterates the importance of wearing masks, maintaining social distance and personal hygiene, even among those who have been found positive to antibodies.

The study was conducted in collaboration with four of Israel’s HMOs and included a sample of 55,000 people from cities and towns all across the country. The ministry will conduct more similar surveys in the future with the aim of learning about the population’s exposure to the virus during the second coronavirus wave.

“Israel is among the first countries in the world to conduct a serological survey on a national scale,” said Health Minister Yuli Edelstein in a statement. “The survey is part of the Health Ministry’s efforts to find more innovative methods for diagnosing coronavirus, including a global and continuous survey to identify advanced and reliable means for rapid detection of the disease.”