“We’ll Be Battling COVID Variants For Years,” Israeli Health Official Says

Israel, along with the rest of the world, will have to learn to live with the coronavirus for a long time, a senior Israeli health official said, according to a Channel 13 News report on Monday. The grim prediction is due to the new more contagious coronavirus mutations spreading throughout the world and the fact that herd immunity cannot be achieved without vaccinating children under the age of 16, which currently cannot be carried out until lengthy trials are completed. Health officials have said in the past that 60-70% of the population must be immune to the virus in order to achieve herd immunity but that number has changed due to the more infectious variants. Currently, 80-90% of the population must be immune to the virus, either through antibodies obtained by recovering from the virus or from being vaccinated, in order to achieve herd immunity, according to Prof. Gili Regev-Yochai, the director of Sheba Medical Center’s Infectious Disease Epidemiology Unit. “We won’t be able to achieve herd immunity until children are vaccinated,” she said, as quoted by Channel 13. “Unfortunately, right now I see herd immunity being less and less obtainable, and this means that we’ll have to live with the coronavirus for quite a while.” Deputy Health Minister Yoav Kisch told Radio 103FM on Tuesday that the infection rate in Israel is still dangerously high. “It’s concerning,” he warned. “We still aren’t seeing the decrease in seriously ill patients we were expecting.” “The British mutation is far more infectious and there will be more mutations. We’re fighting a battle that will be with us for many years.” Coronavirus czar Prof. Nachman Ash said on Sunday that the British variant is now behind 70% of virus cases nationwide. He also said that there are now at least 80 cases of the South African variant in Israel. (YWN Israel Desk – Jerusalem)