Israeli Expert Panel Recommends Shorter Isolation for Confirmed COVID Carriers

The Health Ministry's advisory panel says data shows quarantine time can be reduced to a week, while also saying there still isn't enough information justifying giving second COVID boosters to people under 60

Ido Efrati
Ido Efrati
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Tests at a COVID station in Jerusalem.
Tests at a COVID station in Jerusalem.Credit: Ohad Zwigenberg
Ido Efrati
Ido Efrati

The expert panel advising the Israeli government on COVID recommended on Monday that the isolation period for confirmed cases be reduced to a week, as long as they do not have symptoms.

The recommendation must be approved by the government to take effect. For the time being, there is no recommendation on reducing quarantine time in the case of exposure to a confirmed carrier.

The panel, which is working within the Health Ministry, also recommended against offering a fourth shot of the vaccine to people under 60 at this point, citing lack of scientific evidence. Its statement said that a single booster shot is enough to protect against serious illness, and a mass second booster drive wouldn't necessarily "reduce harm to the economy."

The panel wrote that "most of the scientific literature points to a high level of infectiousness in the first days of the illness" and that statistics show contagiousness dwindles over the first week.

The American Centers for Disease Control decided two weeks ago to shorten the recommended isolation time in the United States to five days for Americans with asymptomatic cases of the virus or whose symptoms had elapsed 24 hours prior. The change was based on scientific sampling proving that COVID is most infectious in its early stages, usually a day or two before symptoms appear and up to three days thereafter, the CDC said.

Last week, preliminary findings were released from an Israeli study of a fourth vaccine dose indicating that it produces a fivefold increase in antibody levels. Sheba Medical Center, Tel Hashomer, said that the increase was seen a week following the inoculation with a second booster shot.

The hospital's study into the effects of a fourth dose began last month, using 154 of its employees.

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