Vaccine Euphoria Gives Way to New Worries

A health-care worker holding a test sample at a testing site in Rechovot. (Yossi Aloni/Flash90)

Initial euphoria over the arrival of the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine is already giving way to new worries.

Health officials are concerned that the resurgence of infection and other problems could wreck the vaccination campaign, according to Channel 13.

Officials fear that people will be reluctant to get the shot due to exposure to other people and long lines. They also express concern that people who receive one dose and go on to contract the virus will not be able to complete the inoculation three weeks later.

And the rising infection rate is such that officials are pessimistic about current restrictions being sufficient to contain the pandemic.

“There is no choice but to head to lockdown,” one official said.

Meanwhile, officials were monitoring progress of the pandemic in Gaza. Israeli health officials met with their Palestinian counterparts on Tuesday and urged them to quickly buy vaccines, the Kan public broadcaster reported. It was said to be the first high-level meeting between the sides since security ties were reestablished a few weeks ago.

According to the report, the Palestinian Authority is in talks with Russia to acquire its vaccine and is expected to receive donated shots from international organizations for 20% of its population. The donation, however, hinges on approval from the WHO, which will probably not come through before January.

In another coronavirus-related story, the Shin Bet security service will stop its using its controversial phone surveillance measures to help track down potential COVID-19 carriers from January 20, according to Kan.

However, it said the agency will continue to use the technology on those who refuse to cooperate with contact tracing efforts.

Later, on Wednesday night, the coronavirus cabinet approved in a televote the reopening of public libraries. The decision was effective immediately.

Last week, the ministers gave the okay for reopening museums following a successful pilot under Health Ministry regulations conducted at selected institutions.

In addition, the budget for writers’ royalties will be increased by an additional NIS 500,000 after NIS 2.7 million was previously approved.

Culture Minister Chilik Tropper (Blue and White), who backed the openings, said, “We have a responsibility for those in the culture industry affected by the coronavirus. We invite everyone to come to the libraries while following the rules that will ensure the health of every visitor. We will do our best so that the libraries can continue to operate even if additional restrictions are imposed,” he said.

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