Dr. Anthony Fauci, who has been at the forefront of the US fight against COVID-19 and the focus of much controversy, told Israel on Thursday that it did the right thing by moving forward with vaccine booster shots even before official FDA approval.
“I think ultimately there will be enough data to show that Israel is doing the right thing,” Fauci said in an interview with Israel’s Army Radio. “I am very favorably disposed to what the Israelis have done and we get a lot of good information from them,” he added, suggesting that the US will soon follow suit and approve COVID-19 vaccine booster shots for all citizens over the age of 12.
In early September, Fauci told the White House COVID-19 Response Team that the data coming out of Israel made a compelling case for administering a booster shot to vaccinated Americans. That was before the FDA advisory panel voted to recommend booster shots only for Americans over the age of 65, a decision that caused a media uproar in Israel, where many accused Prime Minister Naftali Bennett of jumping the gun in his aggressive booster shot campaign.
But even under former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel wasn’t willing to wait on the FDA, and was among the first nations to start offering doses of the Pfizer vaccine to the general public.
Green Passport expiration
From today (Sunday) any eligible vaccinated Israeli who had not yet received a booster shot was to lose his or her “Green Passport.”
However, the government website where fully vaccinated Israelis could get their new Green Passport almost immediately crashed due to the flood of visitors and download requests. Given the technical difficulties, the government has extended a grace period of a few days during which the “old” Green Passports will still work.
Tel Aviv protest
Israelis either opposed to the coronavirus vaccine altogether, or angered by what they see as government coercion to get a booster shot even before it’s been medically approved protested in the streets of Tel Aviv at the weekend.
Some compared the Bennett’s government’s tactics to those of Nazi Germany.
Prime Minister Bennett and his cabinet insist that the booster shot campaign is working, and point to a decline in the numbers of seriously ill and new COVID infections in recent days as proof.
At the same time, Bennett and some others in his government are cautioning that it’s too early to celebrate yet. Two million Israeli children just returned to school following the holidays, and there is fear of possible outbreaks.