For the first time since the pandemic began, Israel says more than a quarter of the most serious Covid-19 cases requiring hospitalization occur in patients under the age of 60.
Israel’s Ministry of Health blames a new strain that was first discovered in the UK last month.
Dr. Itamar Grotto, Deputy Director General of the Israeli Ministry of Health, said: “This is because the new British variant is more contagious, especially among young people and children.”
The news that Israel’s hospitals now have a record number of serious Covid cases came within 24 hours of Israel launching a “second dose”. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was the first to get his second shot yesterday.
Israel has been commended by the global health community for moving to vaccination so quickly. So far, nearly two million Israelis have received their first shot from around 9 million people. Israel has a highly centralized health system in which everyone has to register in a digital system, which makes it easier for the Ministry of Health to organize the vaccination campaign across the country.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will receive the second dose of the vaccine against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) on January 9, 2021 at the Sheba Medical Center in Ramat Gan near the coastal city of Tel Aviv.
MIRIAM ALSTER | AFP | Getty Images
Despite its success in the vaccine field, Israel is currently in its third nationwide lockdown due to the spreading virus. Without downplaying concerns about the rising percentage of younger people hospitalized with serious infections, epidemiologist Grotto points out that nearly 70% of Israelis over the age of 60 received their first shot, which gives them some immunity.
CNBC employee and former FDA chief Dr. Scott Gottlieb has been monitoring trends in Israel and Europe since the pandemic started a year ago and used them as a possible model for what could happen in the US, including the relatively new-found British variant.
“If we can use the vaccine, we can probably fight it off,” said Gottlieb, referring to the more dangerous, faster-spreading strain.
He believes the recent and alarming surge in the US is more related to vacation travel and gatherings, “but the bottom line is that we don’t have a good enough surveillance system to know for sure,” said Gottlieb.
The British variant officially only accounts for 0.2% of the US cases. Gottlieb also warned U.S. health officials who are not yet as carefully looking at the increasingly dangerous strain ravaging an overstretched South African health system.