In Shift, Vast Majority of New COVID Cases in Israel Below Age 39

New COVID mutations and low rate of inoculation among young people are contributing factors – with some Israelis from the age bracket getting seriously ill

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Haaretz
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A restaurant in Tel Aviv's Florentine neighborhood in July.
A restaurant in Tel Aviv's Florentine neighborhood in July.Credit: Tomer Appelbaum
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Haaretz

Seventy-five percent of new COVID-19 cases in Israel are under the age of 39, a new report by Israel's Coronavirus Information Center published on Sunday shows.

Additionally, the report revealed that as much as 15 percent of patients in a serious condition are age 39 or younger, a figure which has steadily increased since December.

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While the number of cases overall appears to be decreasing, including those in serious condition, the majority of new cases are increasingly among younger demographics. Of the new cases, 38 percent are age 19 or younger, which is the same as last month.

Thirty-seven percent are between the ages of 20-39, which is around eight percent higher than the month of January.

This change in composition of patients can be attributed to a few factors. The spread of several new coronavirus variants from the U.K., South Africa, and Brazil among others is one such reason. While the government banned most inbound and outbound flights in January in an effort to curb the spread of the variants, it was only weeks after they had already begun to spread in Israel.

Another likely factor is the low number of young people getting vaccinated in Israel, which has seen about 3.8 million people receive at least one dose. While the vaccination campaign has been viewed as a great success both in Israel and internationally, there is concern that it has begun to lose steam, particularly among young people.

Young people, particularly those in the ages 20-39 demographic are getting vaccinated in much smaller numbers than older age groups. Whereas 65 percent of Israelis in their 40s have received at least one dose, nearly 80 percent in their 50s and 60s, and 90 percent or more in the 70s plus demographic, less than 50 percent of Israelis in their 30s, 40 percent in their twenties and only 30 percent of eligible teenagers have been vaccinated.

Doctors have concurred that the third wave of the virus was more aggressive than its predecessors. More patients became seriously ill, their symptoms were worse, and their condition deteriorated to the point of needing ventilators more quickly. Moreover, many were in their forties, fifties and sixties, and not all of them had underlying health conditions.

This was in part due to the mutations of the virus, with some physicians concluding that the British mutation caused younger people to fall into a serious condition.

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