Israel ‘Working On’ Obtaining Third Doses of Vaccine as COVID Cases Spike, Bennett Says

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Haaretz
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Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, last week
Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, last weekCredit: Ohad Zwigenberg
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Haaretz

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said Israel is "very close" to obtaining more coronavirus vaccines to supply Israelis with a third dose on Tuesday.

"We are working on it, believe me," Bennett said. 

"There are things we need to do in order to obtain [the doses]. The less we talk about it the more likely it'll happen. I'm on it." 

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Israel reported Tuesday a four-month record of new coronavirus cases, with the number of patients in serious condition continuing to rise sharply.

The number of COVID-19 patients in serious condition rose to 145, 24 of them on ventilators on Tuesday, according to data provided by the Health Ministry. Those numbers on Monday were 138 and 26, respectively.

New daily coronavirus cases in IsraelCredit: Israeli Health Ministry

Over the past week, the number of Israeli coronavirus patients in serious condition has more than doubled, according to Tuesday's data.

"We have to get it into our heads that there will be twice as many confirmed cases in another week, with twice as many in serious and critical condition," the ministry's director general, Prof. Nachman Ash, said in relation to the numbers during a discussion with hospital directors on Tuesday.

Number of serious cases in IsraelCredit: Israeli Health Ministry

In a recording of Ash released by Israel's Channel 12 news, Ash said that the so-called Green Pass may go into effect this Thursday, but "it won't make any dramatic difference."

Regarding a possible third vaccine shot, Ash said a decision would be made in the coming days. Ash explained that if such a decision would be made, preference would be given to older adults. 

Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz said on Monday that the government's policy is to avoid lockdowns and instead of focus on ensuring that people wear masks, quarantine when required, and get vaccinated.

Prof. Ran Balicer, who heads a panel of experts advising the Health Ministry, told Haaretz that “the current restrictions have proven over recent weeks that they do not stop the spread of the disease in Israel."

"The government has to decide strategically whether a continued rise like this is a policy. And if so, it has to be taken into account that if they regret it later, the variety of tools available to stop the spread will be more limited – and will include only means that do extreme damage to the economy and society,” he added.

Prof. Balicer also noted that 'serious' coronavirus patients are generally less ill now than in previous COVID outbreaks in Israel.

On Monday, Israel saw a twenty-day peak in the number of newly vaccinated people, the majority of whom received their second jab. The data comes after Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett slammed unvaccinated people who chose not to inoculate during a televised address.

Also on Monday, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention raised concerns about the rising number of COVID-19 cases in Israel, the West Bank and Gaza, raising its travel health notice to "Level 3: High."

Overnight into Tuesday, Israel reinstated another restriction for Ben-Gurion International Airport, according to which passengers will not be allowed escorts, and non-travelers will be barred from entering the airport's arrivals hall.

Last week, the government reinstated vaccine passports for events of over 100 people in closed venues. When asked on Sunday whether those new requirements would suffice, Ash said that he hopes it will lower the rate of infection, but that the situation would need to be monitored to see whether additional steps must be taken.

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