Israeli health experts believe that, based on the current data from the campaign to administer booster vaccine shots, the country can overcome the current outbreak of the Delta variant of the coronavirus if five million people get the third dose, a report said Tuesday.
Officials believe that Israel could drive down cases to the low levels seen before Delta emerged if that benchmark is reached, Kan news said.
Thus far, some 1.65 million have received the third dose. But that number is expected to soon go up sharply, as the booster has in recent days become available to the 40-49 age group and was further expanded Tuesday to those aged 30-39.
Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz said Tuesday that he expects the third dose to become available soon to all age groups that can receive the vaccine — 12 and up — provided that five months have passed since their second dose.
The Kan report also said Health Ministry data indicates that Israelis who received the third vaccine dose are 10 times more protected from COVID-19 than those who were only given the first two shots.
That figure is relevant once 12 days have passed since the booster is administered.
Israel is one of the first countries in the world to offer a third vaccine to such a broad slice of its population, as it seeks to combat the highly infectious Delta strain.
Meanwhile, daily infection numbers were continuing to see near-record rates, with Health Ministry figures published Wednesday morning showing 9,891 new cases were identified on Tuesday — a similar number to Monday.
That is near the all-time record of 10,213 reached in January, although the current rate of positive tests is 6.69 percent, much lower than previous rates which have reached 15%. The current near-record daily cases are therefore boosted by the high number of tests, which were at 150,657 on Tuesday.
There were 77,956 active cases — also nearing an all-time record — including 692 serious cases, of which 172 are defined as critical. The death toll was at 6,880.