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In ages 60+, serious cases 5 times likelier for unvaccinated

Experts say current COVID outbreak being curbed thanks to booster vaccines

Hebrew University researchers say serious cases on the decline, but expect daily cases to slightly rise again as school year opens

A man in his 30s receives a third COVID-19 vaccine dose, at a vaccination center in Jerusalem, on August 24, 2021. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
A man in his 30s receives a third COVID-19 vaccine dose, at a vaccination center in Jerusalem, on August 24, 2021. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

The rate of new COVID-19 patients being hospitalized in serious condition has slowed significantly as a result of the booster vaccine, experts said on Friday, anticipating that the current outbreak has been curbed.

After surpassing 700 concurrent serious cases earlier this week, Health Ministry data on Friday showed there were 689 patients hospitalized in serious condition, in what appeared to be the start of a decline in the country’s fourth virus wave.

Researchers from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem said in a Friday report that Israel’s drive to administer widespread third COVID-19 vaccine shots had caused the change of trend, along with some reimposed restrictions. They added that in the coming days, the number of daily infections was similarly expected to start slowing down.

The government launched its latest vaccination campaign earlier this month, urging Israelis over 60 (since lowered to over 30) to get their third dose of the vaccine — known as a booster shot — which officials hope will help protect Israel’s most vulnerable from the highly contagious Delta variant of the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19.

“The current virus wave has been curbed thanks to a combination of the booster drive and soft restrictions,” the report said.

As of Friday morning, 1,872,056 Israelis had been given the third dose.

Eran Segal, a COVID expert and one of the top government advisers to the coronavirus cabinet, said the rate of serious cases out of all new infections dropped from around 2 percent to 1.4% in recent days.

“Meaning, for the same number of infections, there is 30% less serious cases,” Segal tweeted.

The Hebrew University researchers said that among those over the age of 60, the unvaccinated were five times more likely to be hospitalized in serious condition due to COVID-19 complications.

According to the Health Ministry, the rate of serious cases among unvaccinated Israelis over the age of 60 as of Friday morning was 267.6 severe cases per 100,000. Among the fully vaccinated in that age group, the figure was 19.2 per 100,000, and among the partially vaccinated it was 58.7 per 100,000.

“Fully vaccinated” refers to Israelis who have received two or three doses, while “partially” means just a single dose.

But with the opening of the school year next week, the researchers warned that the number of daily infections would slightly rise again. However, with the booster vaccine, a rise in serious cases is not expected, they said in the report.

Israeli students going to school in Tel Aviv, on April 18, 2021. (Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90)

Of the 689 seriously ill on Friday, 149 were on ventilators, according to Health Ministry figures. In total, there were 1,086 people hospitalized with COVID-19.

The data showed 8,078 new infections were recorded on Thursday, with an additional 1,220 cases identified by Friday morning, taking the number of active cases in the country to 78,342.

The ministry said that 147,184 people were tested on Thursday, with the positivity rate showing a further rise to 6.71 percent — the highest level since February.

The number of people who have died of the disease since the onset of the pandemic rose to 6,943 on Friday.

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