194 New Coronavirus Cases at 0.6% Positivity Rate

YERUSHALAYIM -
An employee opens a freezer containing Pfizer’s vaccination against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) as he works at SLE, a unit of Teva Pharmaceuticals, near Shoham, Jan. 4. (Reuters/Ronen Zvulun)

Only 194 people were diagnosed with COVID-19 on Sunday, according to data from the Health Ministry on Monday morning.

The number of patients in serious condition continued to drop and only 0.6% of the tests performed returned a positive result on Sunday, marking the lowest rate since May 2020.

Moreover, the number of serious patients dropped to 327. The numbers were 441 on the previous Monday and 543 the week before that.

Only three people succumbed to the virus on Sunday, also the lowest daily death toll in months. Some 6,243 people have died of COVID-19 in Israel since the beginning of the pandemic.

Additionally on Monday, Army Radio reported that Pfizer has halted shipments of the coronavirus vaccine to Israel until the Cabinet meets to approve agreements with the vaccine producer, with representatives of the company expressing outrage at Israel’s failure to pay for a previous shipment of vaccines.

A shipment of 700,000 vaccines was meant to arrive in Israel on Sunday, but will not be headed to the country until further notice, according to the report, as Israel still hasn’t paid for the last shipment of 1.5 million vaccines that arrived in Israel beforehand.

Last week, a Cabinet meeting that was supposed to approve an additional NIS 3.5 billion worth of vaccines was canceled amid political infighting between Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Benny Gantz. So far, Israel has spent some NIS 2.6 billion on vaccines.

Pfizer has expressed outrage with the failure of the government to uphold the agreements and pay for the vaccines.

Moderna has reportedly also cut off contact with Israel in the meantime.

According to the report, Gantz and Health Minister Yuli Edelstein spoke Sunday to try to come to an agreement on the issue. The parties might agree to convene a meeting just to approve the funding for the vaccines.

While Israel still has enough supplies to vaccinate the population currently eligible – everyone over the age of 16 – the country is gearing up to begin vaccinating children ages 12-15 after Pfizer released the first results of the clinical trial showing excellent safety and efficacy.

In January Israel and Pfizer reached a unique agreement under which the company committed to provide the country with enough vaccines to inoculate a consistent part of its population in exchange for receiving clinical data on the inoculation results.