New Coronavirus Variant Discovered in Israel

YERUSHALAYIM -
View of coronavirus swab sampling booths at the Ben-Gurion International Airport. (Yossi Aloni/Flash90)

A new coronavirus variant has been discovered in Israel, the Health Ministry announced Tuesday.

The ministry’s central laboratory for viruses published a study mapping the COVID-19 strains that exist in Israel since the outbreak of the pandemic in March 2020 until January.

An Israeli variant was listed among the various mutations. The strain is uncommon and has no clinical or epidemiological significance, is not related to or causes widespread infection, severe morbidity, or has an effect on vaccine efficacy.

The Israeli variant appeared in samples from July but is disappearing and the evidence for it is dwindling.

The British variant is the dominant one in Israel and appeared in over 90% of the sequenced cases in Israel in February 2021.

The improvement in Israel’s situation vis-à-vis the coronavirus is attributed to its success to rapidly vaccinate its population.

A total of just 442 new coronavirus cases were diagnosed on Tuesday, according to data released by the Health Ministry on Wednesday.

Just 1.0% of tests conducted Tuesday came back positive, up slightly from 0.9% of tests carried out Monday.

There are now just 7,844 known active cases of the virus in Israel, of which 593 are being treated in hospitals.

Of those 593 hospitalizations, only 396 patients are in serious condition. That is down from 431 patients in serious condition on Tuesday, and is the lowest level since Dec. 15, 2020, when there were 388 seriously ill patients.

The total number of coronavirus-related fatalities now stands at 6,201, including eleven deaths on Tuesday and one on Wednesday morning.

Thus far, 5,236,351 Israelis have received at least one dose of the vaccine, or 56.31% of the population, with 51.24% of, or 4,764,656 people having received both doses.