Israelis Likely to Be Wearing Masks Until Next Summer

YERUSHALAYIM -
Wearing a face mask while shopping for groceries next to the Machaneh Yehudah market in Yerushalayim. (Fitoussi/Flash90)

Prof. Eran Segal of the Weizmann Institute of Science said on Channel 13 news  that Israel — and the world — will have to learn to live under the shadow of COVID-19 for a long time. The continuing mutation of the virus, coupled with the inability to vaccinate children currently, makes a full return to normal life anytime soon unlikely.

“Before the more infectious U.K. and South African strains emerged, medical officials had estimated that around 60-70% of the population must attain immunity — either by recovering from the disease or by getting vaccinated — for herd immunity to be achieved, Segal said.

Children under the age of 16 — about 30% of the country’s population — are not part of the vaccine trials and will not receive the shot until additional research is complete. This means that almost all adults would have to be vaccinated for enough immunity to be attained and herd immunity achieved. At that point the virus would die down.

Professor Gili Regev-Yochay, director of Sheba Medical Center’s Infectious Disease Epidemiology Unit, told Channel 13, “We won’t be able to achieve herd immunity until children are vaccinated. Right now, unfortunately, I see the issue of herd immunity getting farther and farther away, and the meaning is that we will have to live with the coronavirus for some time.”