Prof. Segal: Israel May Have Reached ‘Herd Immunity’

YERUSHALAYIM -
A technician holds a box containing test-tubes as she works at Healthcare Maintenance Organization (HMO) Maccabi’s coronavirus disease’s (COVID-19) public laboratory, performing diverse and numerous tests, in Rechovot. (Reuters/Ammar Awad)

Professor Eran Segal, a computational biologist at the Weizmann Institute of Science, told Channel 12 on Motzoei Shabbos that with nearly five million Israelis fully vaccinated, after receiving two doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, the number of daily coronavirus cases has plummeted 97%.

“It is possible that Israel has reached a sort of herd immunity and regardless, we have a wide safety net,” Prof. Segal said. “I think that makes it possible to remove some of the restrictions immediately.”

Segal also told Channel 12 that no new spikes in the daily infection rate have been detected amid unregulated gatherings over Purim and Pesach.

More research still needs to be completed, Prof. Segal said, but if the data are correct, Israel would effectively become the first country in the world to reach herd immunity.

At least 5.3 million Israelis have received at least one dose of the vaccine, while 4.9 million have gotten two inoculations since the country started its drive around December 20.

Due to the vaccine drive’s success, Health Ministry officials are currently holding talks that would see a significant loosening of a mask mandate outdoors along with completely reopening the country’s school system.

The most significant restrictions still in place regard air travel, with only a few thousand allowed to enter or exit the country each day.

The government says the restrictions are still in place due to concerns over variants of the disease that could undermine the progress made in the battle against the coronavirus.