Unvaccinated Israelis Driving September Apex in Serious COVID Cases

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A medical worker prepares to administer a patient's third dose of the coronavirus vaccine in Tel Aviv, Israel
A medical worker prepares to administer a patient's third dose of the coronavirus vaccine in Tel Aviv, IsraelCredit: Amir Cohen/Reuters

Over the past two days Israel has experienced the highest numbers of serious cases of COVID since the beginning of September. The data from the Health Ministry shows that the rise in serious cases is significantly higher among non-vaccinated individuals, with the unvaccinated making up 74 percent of new serious cases on Saturday. 

On Sunday, the Health Ministry reported a total of 726 serious cases, of them 245 people are in critical condition and 195 are on ventilators. This represents a steady hike from the preceding days, when there were 654, 658, and 717 seriously ill patients respectively.

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Although the unvaccinated constitute about 17 percent of Israelis who are eligible for vaccine, they account for around two thirds of active serious cases in Israel at the moment. By contrast, fully vaccinated patients make up only 7.5 percent of the serious cases. 

A similar trend is clearly visible with the mortality rate. While there has been a general decline in deaths over the past few days, bringing the mortality rate to its lowest point in six weeks, the unvaccinated continuously make up a larger portion of patients who succumb to the virus. On Saturday, six patients died, and three of them did not receive an inoculation. Over the past week, 119 people passed away, and nearly 60 percent of them were unvaccinated.

The government also approved letting children aged three and older to return to kindergartens and elementary schools if they can provide a negative COVID test. Parents can choose to let their children have a rapid or a PCR test.

The new guidelines don't specify how often the tests would have to be provided, nor when they would go into effect. Prime Minister Naftali Bennett pushed for the new regulations, with backing from Education Minister Yifat Shasha-Biton, who at the same time clarified that she doesn't support forced testing of children. 

Over the weekend, Bennett doubled down on his decision to extend the green passport from October 1 only for those who have received the third jab. The decision came on the heels of an FDA advisory panel's recommendation against administering the Pfizer booster shot against COVID-19 to Americans under 65, except for at-risk groups and medical staff.

Israel's booster drive, meanwhile, has gathered apace. The country recently surpassed the 3 million person mark for the third vaccine shot, with 12,698 more Israelis receiving the booster on Saturday. 

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