COVID in Israel: Slight Decline in New Cases Over Weekend

Israel is examining vaccinating children under 12 with preexisting medical conditions against COVID as the delta variant spreads

Ido Efrati
Ido Efrati
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An adolescent receving a vaccine in Holon, on Saturday.
An adolescent receving a vaccine in Holon, on Saturday.Credit: Hadas Parush
Ido Efrati
Ido Efrati

Israel recorded a slight downward trend in the number of new daily confirmed coronavirus cases over the weekend, the Health Ministry said on Sunday.  

According to the newly released data, 50,325 coronavirus tests were conducted over the weekend, with the positivity rate standing at 0.6 percent, compared to last week's 0.7 percent. In total, 261 new cases were confirmed on Sunday.

Israel currently has 4,130 active cases, 44 of whom are in serious condition, with 12 of those on ventilators. So far, 6,436 Israelis have died from the virus.

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On Friday, the ministry announced that all travelers arriving in Israel must quarantine for 24 hours or until receiving a negative coronavirus test result as of next Friday, July 16. 

In addition, arrivals from countries that have a severe travel warning will be required to enter a 10-day quarantine. These countries include Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Ethiopia, Guatemala, Honduras, Kyrgyzstan, Namibia, Paraguay, Seychelles, Tunisia, the United Arab Emirates, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.

The ministry added that if the pandemic worsens in these countries, they may be added to the list of countries with the highest travel warning, to which Israelis cannot fly at all as of July 12. These countries include Russia, Brazil, and India. 

Also on Monday, the panel of coronavirus experts advising the Health Ministry is examining the possibility of beginning to vaccinate children under the age of 12 with preexisting medical conditions, or children living in a household where at least one person is at increased risk of serious illness.

On Sunday evening, the panel is set to discuss the matter with the ministry’s coronavirus vaccination monitoring committee in light of the spread of the delta variant in Israel. If the decision is made to inoculate such children, the vaccination will be given on a case by case basis with approval by the ministry.

Officials on the experts’ panel say that there are differences of opinion over the approval of this step. It is difficult to assess at this point whether it will be approved due to this controversy, especially considering that Pfizer-BioNTech has yet to complete its testing of the vaccine on children aged 5 -11.

Pfizer is expected to complete its testing for this age group in September, and only then will it submit a request to approve vaccination for such children from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Meanwhile, testing is already underway in vaccinating children aged 2-4, which is expected to be completed a few months afterwards.

 If vaccination of children under age 12 is approved, the project will be implemented similarly to the way children under 16 had been vaccinated before sweeping approval was given to vaccinate that age group.

In Israel, more than 1,000 children have been vaccinated following individual approval by the ministry due to various health conditions. No side effects or other responses were observed that were different from any other group in the population.

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