MK diagnosed with coronavirus 10 days after vaccination shot

UTJ lawmaker Yisrael Eichler, who has had first of two-shot inoculation, said to be feeling well; diagnosis comes day after Shas party’s MK Yoav Ben-Tzur tested positive for virus

Stuart Winer is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.

United Torah Judaism MK Yisrael Eichler in Jerusalem on September 4, 2019. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
United Torah Judaism MK Yisrael Eichler in Jerusalem on September 4, 2019. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

MK Yisrael Eichler of the United Torah Judaism party tested positive for the coronavirus Thursday despite already having been given a first dose of the virus vaccination.

It was the latest in a spate of virus cases in the Knesset that last week saw two other MKs, two spokespeople for lawmakers, eight other staffers and a cafeteria worker at the parliament building diagnosed. On Wednesday night, Shas MK Yoav Ben-Tzur was also announced to have tested positive.

The head of the Knesset Guard, Sergeant-at-Arms Yosef Grif, announced in a statement that Eichler, 65, had been diagnosed with the virus.

A statement on behalf of the lawmaker said that he was feeling well.

The Health Ministry is to begin an epidemiological investigation to identify those he has recently been in contact with.

Eichler was given the first of the two Pfizer vaccine shots ten days ago. The second injection is given a few weeks after the first.

The Pfizer vaccine reaches full effectiveness only after the second shot. During development trials it was found that the first shot offers about 50 percent protection against the virus.

Shas party lawmaker Yoav Ben-Tzur in Tiberias, February 27, 2020. (David Cohen/Flash90)

On Wednesday night Grif said that Deputy Interior Minister Ben-Tzur, 62, of the Shas party had tested positive, prompting an epidemiological probe of his recent contacts.

The two ultra-Orthodox lawmakers join Blue and White MK Hila Shay-Vazan and Yaakov Asher from UTJ, who were diagnosed last week. Likud MK David Bitan is hospitalized with a serious case of COVID-19. On Sunday a spokesperson for Bitan said there had been a “significant” improvement in his condition.

Previously, then-health minister Yaakov Litzman, Immigration Minister Pnina Tamano-Shata, Joint List leader Ayman Odeh, Environmental Protection Minister Gila Gamliel, Jerusalem Affairs Minister Rafi Peretz, Shas MK Yinon Azoulay have all been diagnosed with the virus.

Other ministers and senior figures, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kohavi, have in the past been forced into quarantine following contact with diagnosed virus carriers.

Israel began a mass vaccination program on December 20 and by Thursday morning had given the first of the two vaccine shots to nearly 800,000 people, according to the Health Ministry.

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