COVID in Israel: Slight Drop in Severe Cases, 70% of Serious Patients Unvaccinated

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A healthcare worker at Western Galilee Hospital's coronavirus ward in Nahariya, Thursday.
A healthcare worker at Western Galilee Hospital's coronavirus ward in Nahariya, Thursday. Credit: Rami Shllush

Israel has seen a slight drop in serious coronavirus cases, with unvaccinated people making up 70 percent of the cases, the Health Ministry said Friday.

Those in Israel who have not been vaccinated against COVID account for 17 percent of the population.  

Although 6,314 new COVID cases were recorded in Israel on Thursday, of which 84 are defined as serious, the overall number of seriously-ill patients decreased by 10 since Thursday and now stands at 703. 

Moreover, over the past two days, the number of people who recovered from the virus surpassed the number of new cases.

Currently, 1,029 people are hospitalized with the virus, with 274 in critical condition and 203 on ventilators. On Thursday, nine people died from COVID – five were unvaccinated, whereas four had received two doses of the Pfizer and BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine.

Since the pandemic erupted in Israel in March 2020, 7,611 people have died from the virus.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Friday backed a booster shot of the Pfizer vaccine for Americans aged 65 and older, some adults with underlying medical conditions and some adults in high-risk working and institutional settings.

The move came after an advisory panel to the agency on Thursday did not recommend that people in high-risk jobs, such as teachers, and risky living conditions should get boosters. The panel had recommended boosters for elderly and some people with underlying medical conditions.

CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said her agency had to make recommendations based on complex, often imperfect data. "In a pandemic, even with uncertainty, we must take actions that we anticipate will do the greatest good," she said in a statement.

The CDC recommendation follows U.S. Food and Drug Administration authorization and clears the way for a booster rollout to begin as soon as this week for millions of people who had their second dose of the Pfizer shot at least six months ago.

On Thursday, Haaretz reported that an advisory panel to Israel's coronavirus cabinet is demanding the government impose more restrictions on the public, arguing the cabinet's policy to assess the disease’s severity only by the number of serious patients is dangerous. 

Following a discussion earlier this week, the experts said that “the ongoing spread of the disease over the past month has exacted a heavy price on people’s lives,” according to the meeting's minutes.

They demanded the government adopt a new policy and impose more restrictions, such as limiting the number of event participants with proof of vaccination to 300 in closed spaces.

Reuters contributed to this report. 

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