Israel Won’t Reach Herd Immunity, COVID Isn’t Going Away
Top doctor says mutations mean children would now need to be vaccinated to end the pandemic
The hope that the Pfizer vaccine gave most Israelis a month ago seems to be waning a little bit more with every passing day. Now experts are saying that even with a fully successful vaccination drive, Israel won’t reach herd immunity and will have to live with COVID-19 and its effects on society for the foreseeable future.
We earlier reported that there are already suggestions from the Ministry of Health that the sought-after “green passport” (certification of vaccination) might now not provide all the previously promised benefits. See: Vaccine Might Not Set Us Free: Growing Frustration in Israel
On Monday evening, Prof. Gili Regev-Yochai, director of the infection control unit of Sheba Medical Center near Tel Aviv, told Israel’s Channel 13 News that Israelis should be prepared to keep wearing masks at least until the coming summer.
“We won’t be able to achieve herd immunity until kids are vaccinated,” she said. “Right now, unfortunately, I see the issue of herd immunity getting farther and farther away, and the meaning is that we will have to live with the coronavirus for some time.”
Prof. Regev-Yochai explained that when facing the original strain of COVID-19, herd immunity would have required 70% of all Israelis either recovering from the virus or being vaccinated. That means every Israeli adult (which was already going to be impossible). But the new mutations, which have been found in not insignificant numbers in Israel, mean that 80-90 percent of Israelis must either recover or be vaccinated. And that means inoculating children, too.
The problem is that the currently available vaccines are not approved for use on children under the age of 16. The expedited trials meant there was no time to conduct a full series of tests regarding the possible effects on young children.
Further exacerbating the situation is that the number of Israelis lining up to receive the vaccine has waned significantly over the past week. One HMO reported that it had to destroy over 1,000 doses that had expired because it couldn’t find enough people willing to be inoculated.
Read more: Israel Already Has the Way to Beat Corona