Several Cases of Indian COVID-19 Strain Found in Israel

A Shaarei Tzedek hospital team member wearing safety gear in the coronavirus ward. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

For the first time, seven cases of the Indian coronavirus variant have been identified in Israel among returnees from abroad, the Health Ministry announced Friday.

In all cases, those who were infected had not been vaccinated against the virus.

The cases were identified by the national genomic sequencing array.

The Health Ministry stated that “there is still no clear information regarding the variant and its implications for vaccinated and recovering people. The Health Ministry reiterates the importance of quarantining for returnees from abroad to Israel, especially from countries where the infections rate is severe.”

Coronavirus commissioner Prof. Nachman Ash said Sunday of the Indian variant that “we do not know much about its properties and especially its resistance to the vaccine.”

Speaking to Israel Radio, he said that “in the meantime, we are doing everything possible to prevent it from spreading.”

The Indian variant has two mutations that may make it more infectious or less affected by vaccines.

Israel’s health services have previously discovered cases of the New York variant, the California variant, as well as the U.K., South African, and Los Angeles variants.

Meanwhile, the Health Ministry reported just 82 new COVID-19 infections out of a total of 11,085 individuals tested on Shabbos.

206 patients are hospitalized in serious condition, including 122 on ventilators.

6,334 Israelis have died since the beginning of the outbreak in the country.

5,343,094 Israelis have received the first dose of the vaccine and 4,969,853 have received both shots.