Data released by the Health Ministry Monday provided a further indication of the effectiveness of the coronavirus vaccine in Israel: Out of those who were tested for the coronavirus at least a week after their second shot, less than 1 percent tested positive, and less than 0.2% developed COVID-19 symptoms.
The data shows that out of 3,387,340 vaccinated people who had had more than a week pass after receiving their second vaccine dose, only 4,711 were found to be positive for the virus and of those, only 907 developed symptoms, including fever or respiratory problems.
Israel has almost exclusively been using the two-shot COVID-19 vaccine developed by Pfizer and BioNTech. On Sunday the Health Ministry released data showing that less than 3% of all seriously ill COVID-19 patients in Israel have been fully vaccinated.
Of the 6,095 coronavirus patients hospitalized in serious or critical condition since the start of Israel’s vaccination campaign, only 175, or 2.87 percent, had received the second vaccination dose, the figures show.
At the same time, 4,589 patients, or 75% of those in serious or critical condition, had not received a first dose.
Israel vaccinated its five millionth citizen against the coronavirus with a first shot on Monday. Of the five million who have now had their first vaccine dose, 3,789,118 have also had the second, according to Health Ministry figures.
Since the start of the coronavirus outbreak early last year, 803,260 people in Israel have been diagnosed with the virus. There are currently 37,698 active cases in the country.
Much of the economy reopened Sunday as a national lockdown was further rolled back, including restaurants, cafes, school grades 7-10 in low- to medium-infection areas, event venues, attractions and hotels. Higher education institutions and religious seminaries were opened to vaccinated or recovered people and rules on gatherings and worship were relaxed.
The cabinet also decided to ease restrictions on international travel and sidelined a highly controversial committee that was deciding who could enter the country while the airport remained largely shuttered.
New coronavirus deaths and infections in Israel have continued to decline from highs in January, and the number of seriously ill COVID-19 patients has dropped to its lowest point since last year.
Still, among the optimism and reopening, health officials have been warning of a possible fourth lockdown, as the basic reproduction number in Israel rose above 1, indicating an expansion of the pandemic.
“We are concerned about the increase in infection in the coming days,” coronavirus czar Nachman Ash told 103FM Radio on Friday, adding that “if we don’t act responsibly, and if [citizens] don’t follow the guidelines, the possibility of a fourth lockdown before the election exists.”
Government officials, including Health Minister Yuli Edelstein, said there would not be a new lockdown before the March 23 election, with Edelstein adding: “With proper conduct [by the public], we will be able to avoid more lockdowns. I really do ask everyone to help us with this.”