Bennett Orders Up Fresh Covid Studies

Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett at the weekly cabinet meeting. (Abir Sultan/Pool via REUTERS)

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and Health Nitzan Minister Horowitz joined on Monday in calling on the ministry to conduct two studies of the coronavirus vaccine aimed at helping the government formulate policy amid a rising number of cases.

A study will be done among verified coronavirus patients who have been vaccinated, regarding various factors (age, pre-existing ailments, inoculation date, etc.) in order to evaluate the efficacy of the vaccine and the rate at which it wears off over time among persons from various age groups and with various pre-existing ailments, the Prime Minister’s Office said in a statement following a meeting on the subject.

The directive also includes an evaluation of the cellular immunity among vaccinated persons over time by means of serological tests.

The studies will be coordinated by Public Health Service Director Dr. Sharon Alroy-Preis in cooperation with the HMOs.

The decision comes the day after the Advisory Committee for Corona Vaccines recommended the vaccination of immunocompromised people with a third dose or booster shot, The Jerusalem Post reported, quoting a member of the committee. They are not recommending a third dose to the rest of the population.

However, Health Ministry Director-General Chezy Levy told Israel Radio later on Monday morning that even if the ministry decides to implement the recommendation, it will likely not happen in the coming months.

“In Britain, they are talking about a third shot in September-October,” he said. “We are not talking about that yet – certainly not in the coming days.”

“We are aware of what is happening in the world, monitoring and testing the levels of antibodies among those vaccinated,” Levy added. “At the moment, it is in discussions, we are studying it. There is still no decision on a booster vaccine in the near future.”

The expert committee is also expected to recommend other measures, such as reinstating the green passport program, requiring people to be vaccinated or tested before entering certain venues. They want to hold off, though, on bringing back limits on the number of people allowed in stores and other businesses, among other restrictions.

The coronavirus cabinet is expected to meet on Tuesday to discuss the next steps to contain the resurgence of the virus, which has been attributed mostly to the Delta variant brought into the country by airline passengers arriving from abroad who were not properly screened at Ben Gurion Airport.

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