Israeli Residents First to Receive COVID-19 Vaccines, Now Face Surge in Cases
In a groundbreaking development, Israeli residents were the first to receive the COVID-19 vaccines almost three years ago, marking a significant milestone in the fight against the pandemic. However, the country is now facing a surge in cases, with a 30% increase in daily confirmed COVID-19 cases over the past two weeks of August.
Adding to the challenges, the Health Ministry lab in Sheba Medical Center recently unveiled the world’s first report on a new coronavirus variant, BA.2.86, nicknamed “Pirola.” The first person in the world to be identified as carrying this variant was an elderly patient who was hospitalized and had not left the country.
Since then, dozens of additional cases of the Pirola variant have been reported globally. However, the significance and level of concern surrounding this new variant remain uncertain due to the limited number of identified cases. It is challenging to predict its trajectory, which adds to the overall uncertainty.
Israeli health officials have noticed an alarming trend. The number of severe COVID-19 patients requiring hospitalization has doubled in the last month, and the positivity rate has reached almost 17%. The exact extent of the increase in cases remains uncertain, but the rise in severe patients with risk factors has been reported from the periphery and Jerusalem.
These developments are not unique to Israel. Global data also shows a rise in COVID-19-related emergency room visits and deaths. It highlights the need for continued vigilance and adherence to preventive measures.
The current variant landscape in Israel is characterized by a wide range of types, with the most dominant variant being EG.6.1, followed by EG.5.1.1 and EG.5.1. However, the Pirola variant stands out as genetically different from its predecessors, although it does not appear to trigger severe symptoms.
Researchers are investigating the effectiveness of new vaccines against the Pirola variant, as well as other emerging variants. Early laboratory experiments have shown promising results, but FDA approval and CDC recommendation are required for updated vaccines designed against specific strains of the virus.
While mask-wearing measures are not immediately necessary, experts urge continued caution as COVID-19 is still present, and the virus continues to change. It is crucial to stay informed and follow the guidelines provided by health authorities to ensure the safety and well-being of all individuals.
“Social media scholar. Reader. Zombieaholic. Hardcore music maven. Web fanatic. Coffee practitioner. Explorer.”