COVID booster shots raise protection against severe illness to 97% — TV

More than 10,000 daily cases recorded as infections spike in Haredi communities, where schools opened up two weeks ago

Amy Spiro is a reporter and writer with The Times of Israel

A woman receives a third dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, at a Meuhedet  vaccination center in Jerusalem, on August 24, 2021. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
A woman receives a third dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, at a Meuhedet vaccination center in Jerusalem, on August 24, 2021. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

After 16 days, a third coronavirus vaccine dose boosts protection against severe illness from the virus to 97 percent, according to Health Ministry figures cited by Channel 12 news on Wednesday night.

The network also said that 16 days after the booster shot is administered, protection against infection jumps to 95%. According to the report, while the level of antibodies is considerably higher within seven days of the shot, they appear to reach their peak after 16 days.

More than 1.7 million Israelis have received a booster dose since the shots first became available on August 1. As of Tuesday, the third doses are available to all Israelis over the age of 30. More than 70% of those over the age of 70 have already received a third dose of the vaccine.

More than 10,000 people in Israel tested positive for COVID on Tuesday, according to revised Health Ministry statistics published on Wednesday evening — the highest one-day figure so far during the fourth wave, and close to the record for a one-day new case total set in January.

As of Wednesday evening, there were 75,403 active COVID cases in Israel, with 1,084 hospitalized, 688 in serious condition, and 139 of them on ventilators. On Wednesday morning and afternoon, 12 people with COVID died, while 25 died on Tuesday and 20 died on Monday.

In just one week, schools are slated to reopen nationwide. As public battles play out over unvaccinated teachers being forced into unpaid leave, the Education Ministry confirmed Wednesday evening that schools cannot bar students from attending for COVID-related reasons.

Preparations for the new school year at the Gamla elementary school in Katzrin, northern Israel, on August 22, 2021. (Michael Giladi/Flash90)

According to ministry officials, students who are unvaccinated will not be forced to show a negative test in order to enter schools, since the law mandates that all students have access to education. Parents who wish to enter the school building will be required to show a “Green Pass,” as will all teachers, under the approved government plan.

In cities that are categorized as “red” — with a high number of cases per capita and a high positivity rate — students will revert to remote learning unless 70% of their grade level is vaccinated or recovered.

In Haredi communities, schools largely reopened on August 9, with the start of the Hebrew month of Elul. In the subsequent two weeks, COVID infection rates in many ultra-Orthodox towns have spiked considerably.

In the city of Elad, infections are up 78% over the past week, and 15% of tests among resident come back positive. In Modiin Illit, infections are up 151% over the past week, in Bnei Brak they have risen 84%, in Beit Shemesh 104%, and in Givat Ze’ev they are up 134%.

Nachman Ash, the director-general of the Health Ministry, said on Tuesday that while the government is aiming to open schools nationwide on September 1, there are no guarantees.

“We hope that we’ll restart schools on September 1,” he said. “We can’t promise anything, but we’re prepared for it and we’re determined. But if there are a lot of cases and all the students require quarantine all the time, there will be no point.”

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