16 retirement home residents contract COVID-19, most of them vaccinated

All are currently asymptomatic; Health Ministry will investigate if the residents were infected with a variant strain

Magen David Adom workers outside a nursing home in Jerusalem on October 12, 2020 (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Illustrative: Magen David Adom workers outside a nursing home in Jerusalem on October 12, 2020 (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Sixteen residents of a retirement home in Ashkelon were evacuated by Magen David Adom medics on Thursday after being diagnosed with COVID-19, Walla news reported.

They were transported to a clinic in Hadera, near Haifa. None of them have symptoms and most are vaccinated, according to Walla.

The Health Ministry will investigate if the residents of Neot Avi were infected with a variant strain.

According to data released by the Health Ministry in February, the Pfizer vaccine is 99.2% protective against serious illness, reduces morbidity by 95.8% and decreases the chance of hospitalization by 98.9%. It also prevents 98.9% of deaths.

Student receives the COVID-19 vaccination at the Amal high school in the southern Israeli city of Beersheba, March 17, 2021 (Flash90)

Last week, an Israeli study found that the South African variant of the coronavirus is notably more adept at “breaking through” the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine than other variants are.

A team from Tel Aviv University and the Clalit healthcare organization sequenced the swabs of 150 Israelis who tested positive for COVID-19 despite having been vaccinated.

A doctor holding syringe for vaccination against COVID-19, in front of a South African flag. (Igor Vershinsky via iStock by Getty Images)

In their study, the prevalence of the South African strain among vaccinated individuals who were infected despite their inoculation was eight times higher than its prevalence in the unvaccinated infected population. Though the number of such infections among the vaccinated was relatively small, the findings indicated that this variant was far more successful in getting through vaccinated individuals’ defenses than other strains.

The research, which has been posted online but not yet peer-reviewed, is likely to raise questions about Pfizer’s own real-world study, which found that in South Africa, despite the local strain being prevalent, the vaccine was 100 percent effective.

The number of COVID-19 patients in serious condition, currently at some 220, has fallen to its lowest level in months as the coronavirus pandemic continues to ebb in Israel.

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