New daily coronavirus infections in Israel are approaching record levels, despite the country’s largely successful vaccination campaign and the recent rollout of the world’s first widespread booster shot.
The government recorded 9,831 new cases on Monday, the highest single-day figure since Jan. 18, when 10,118 new cases were detected, Israel’s record for the pandemic.
The spread of the virus has been driven by a surge in the delta variant — even among the vaccinated.
The government quickly postponed the Aug. 1 target date for reopening the country to foreign tourists indefinitely, dealing a blow to an industry that has seen a more than 80% drop in incoming visitors during the pandemic. Officials began issuing dire warnings about the impending return to school and the possibility of new restrictions during the Jewish High Holidays, which begin in September.
A grim warning from Israel
Israel has among the world’s highest levels of vaccination for COVID-19, with 78% of those 12 and older fully vaccinated, the vast majority with the Pfizer vaccine. Yet the country is now logging one of the world’s highest infection rates, with nearly 650 new cases daily per million people.
More than half are in fully vaccinated people, underscoring the extraordinary transmissibility of the Delta variant. Officials have pointed to evidence that the initial round of vaccines become less effective over time.
Late last month, Israel began offering booster shots to its people. Beginning with its oldest citizens, that effort has expanded to include anyone over the age of 30 and select others, including health care workers and teachers of all ages.
More than 1.3 million Israelis out of a population of 9.3 million have received three doses of Pfizer so far. But there have been “breakthroughs”: some people have become infected with coronavirus despite having received three shots.
Israel’s experience is forcing the booster issue onto the radar for other nations, suggesting as it does that even the best vaccinated countries will face a Delta surge.
Video: Israel’s top respiratory doctor blows whistle on vaccine effectiveness
Dr. Kobi Haviv is a world-renowned for his work on Covid-19 treatments, particularly aiding patients who have acute respiratory ailments as a result. Here’s an interview with him explaining the growing problems Israel is facing with Covid-19 hospitalizations. He had the gall to utter the phrase, “Yes, unfortunately the vaccine… as they say, its effectiveness is waning.”