Health Ministry Official Discusses ‘Worrying’ Study on Vaccine’s Effectiveness Against S. African Variant

A health worker holds a COVID-19 sample collection kit of a vaccine trials’ volunteer, after the individual was tested for the coronavirus disease and took part in the country’s human clinical trial for potential vaccines at the Wits RHI Shandukani Research Center in Johannesburg, South Africa. (Reuters/Siphiwe Sibeko/File Photo)

During Wednesday’s meeting of the Constitution, Law, and Justice Committee, Dr. Sharon Alroy-Preis, head of Public Health Services in the Ministry of Health, discussed a “worrying” preliminary study that examined eleven cases where the current vaccine was shown to be less effective against the South African variant strain of the coronavirus. However, she stressed that it wasn’t clear what impact the current vaccines have on the strain.

“If we wind up concluding that [the vaccine] isn’t [properly effective] against the strain, we will require everyone who tested positive, or who have returned from South Africa, to quarantine in a hotel.”

Alroy-Preis added that the South African strain is troubling because it might lead to higher rates of infection amongst the younger populations.

During the meeting, the committee chaired by MK Rabbi Yaakov Asher (United Torah Judaism) approved the extension to January 18 of the current travel regulations, requiring any Israeli returning to the country from abroad to enter quarantine. The current regulations require incoming travelers to quarantine in a corona hotel for 14 days. It is possible to quarantine at home under three conditions: signing a quarantine declaration upon entry, getting tested at the airport, and providing a written commitment to getting tested again on the ninth day of quarantine.

Committee Chairman Rabbi Asher said, “Even if one person enters [Israel] with a mutant, it justifies extending the [travel restrictions].”

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