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Saturday, September 25, 2021

Rwanda’s response to COVID-19 brings out the need to prepare and learn from practice

Wash your hands, wear your face mask and practice physical distancing. These COVID-19 safety measures by the World Health Organization (WHO) will probably go down in the World’s history as the most repeated and translated words of the year 2020.  Since December 2019, COVID-19 has imposed itself onto the World forcing everyone to rethink the…
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    Israeli health experts agree to give third COVID jab to the elderly

    Individuals over the age of 60 who are at risk of developing severe coronavirus will now be eligible for receiving an extra jab of the coronavirus vaccine, the Health Ministry decided as the Green Pass program came into effect again.

    The Health Ministry informed the health funds that they could begin administering the doses on Sunday. 

    The Health Ministry’s coronavirus vaccination committee voted by an absolute majority to administer the third shot of the Pfizer vaccine to elderly people at a meeting that ran from 9 p.m. to midnight, despite a third jab still not being approved by the US Food and Drug Administration.

    “I would like to thank all the members of the committee for their thorough and comprehensive work,” Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said .”Our strategy is clear: To safeguard life, and to safeguard daily routine in the State of Israel.”

    Already on Thursday morning, Prof. Nimrod Maimon, head of the Magen Avot V’Imahot program met with representatives of the country’s assisted living facilities and said that the shots would be immediately administered at their homes.

    The move comes one day after Pfizer told its investors in a presentation that their research shows that a third dose of the vaccine increased antibodies in those who received it by five to 11 times. The company said it hopes to apply for emergency use approval of the extra shot sometimes in August.

    The Delta variant has been quickly spreading across Israel. While the majority of new cases are younger people, among them unvaccinated children, the country is starting to see more and more elderly who were vaccinated five and six months ago get infected. Preliminary research by the Health Ministry showed that the Pfizer vaccine was only 16% effective against the Delta variant in people vaccinated so long ago.

    Moreover, it is estimated that for people 60 and older, the effectiveness of the vaccine in preventing serious illness has dropped from 97% to 81%.

    “Eighty-one percent is still effective, but the gap is dramatic,” tweeted Prof. Eran Segal of the Weizmann Institute of Science on Thursday morning. “Because if previously the chance of a vaccinated person aged 60+ getting seriously ill was 3%, now it is 19%, which means six times more.”

    To help stop the spread of infection, the government voted last week to re-establish the Green Pass program, which went into effect on Thursday. 

    The program requires that to enter an establishment with more than 100 people, an individual over the age of 12 must present a vaccination or recovery certificate or a negative coronavirus test taken within the last 72 hours.

    To help enforce the wearing of masks on public transportation, Bennett and Transportation Minister Merav Michaeli announced that some 400 inspectors would be hired for the next three months, with an option to renew their contracts as needed after that.

    The battle over schools, however, continues. 

    Bennet said that the Health and Education ministries are working together to develop a “safe outline” for the start of the school year and would announce it when it is ready.

    The announcement came after reports that there was a big gap between the stances of the two ministers.

    “Our government was formed on the basis of diversity, and we know how to manage diverse positions,” he said. “We will continue to do so.”

    There were 2,165 new cases of coronavirus diagnosed on Wednesday, the Health Ministry reported Thursday morning – the third day with more than 2,000 new infections. Some 2.35% of those screened tested positive. 

    There were 159 patients in serious condition, including 26 who were intubated. 

    Jerusalem Post Staff contributed to this report.

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