Photo Credit: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90
President Isaac Herzog receives the third vaccination against the Coronavirus at Tel HaShomer hospital outside Tel Aviv, July 30, 2021.

Israel’s Health Ministry reported this weekend that the number of daily new cases of COVID-19 is beginning to skyrocket. On Thursday there were 2,161 new cases of the virus; the next day (Friday July 30) there were 2,435 new cases reported.

There were more than 200 serious cases (201) on Saturday for the first time since mid-April. The Health Ministry reported that 37 of those were listed in critical condition, and of those 31 were relying on ventilators to stay alive.

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President Isaac Herzog was the first in the country to receive a third dose of vaccine this weekend.

President Herzog, 61, Launches Corona’s Third-Dose Vaccine Booster Campaign

The number of COVID-19 serious-to-critical cases is likewise spiraling upward; on Thursday there were 154 serious cases, including 30 new ones, and on Friday there were 179 serious cases, including 41 new ones.

Eran Segal, a health official working with Israel’s government on its pandemic response tweeted Saturday that there were 67 percent more cases recorded this past week than were in the week prior, and that the number of tests performed in the past week rose by 25 percent.

Five people died in 48 hours; four died from the virus on Thursday, and one more died from the virus on Friday, bringing the COVID-19 death toll to 6,473, the Health Ministry reported.

Travelers Must Test, and Test Again
The Health Ministry also issued a reminder to the public that said all Israeli travelers returning from abroad are required to have a corona test (PCR) before taking off for Israel and a corona test on landing at Ben Gurion International Airport.

Those returning from “red list” countries at maximum risk, or a severe travel warning require full isolation even if they are vaccinated or recovered, the ministry said. Travelers returning from abroad who are required to quarantine are not allowed to take public transportation from the airport, the ministry said.

The ministry also clarified that there is no change in the recognition of those who have been vaccinated or who have recovered abroad (in other words, the status is NOT recognized in Israel). Those who arrive in Israel and were vaccinated or recovered abroad are required to perform a serological test to prove it. A positive result will, however, confer recognition as vaccinated or recovered in Israel and the individual will receive an exemption from quarantine (upon filing the results with the Health Ministry).

There has also been a change in the type of COVID-19 vaccinations now being offered in Israel.

Moderna Vaccine Available Now
Israelis ages 18 and up who have not yet been vaccinated will receive two shots of the Moderna vaccine, 28 days apart, instead of the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine. Those who have already received one or two doses of the Pfizer vaccine will also receive Pfizer vaccine for their next dose, with the shots administered 21 days apart.

Those who received a first shot of the Moderna vaccine will also receive Moderna for the second inoculation – including those who received the dose abroad.

For those age 60 and up who are receiving a third dose, if the preferred vaccine is not available, the shot can be administered with whatever is available.

Reminder: The coronavirus booster shot is now available for anyone age 60 and older. “No testing, no doctor’s referral,” the ministry said. “Call your HMO and schedule it right now. Get vaccinated so we can safely spend the holidays together.”

Analysis has shown that the protection of the vaccine fades at five months, and is nearly gone at six months, particularly for those age 40 and up. Those age 60 and older are at the highest risk.

Israel is discarding some 80,000 doses of unused Pfizer coronavirus vaccine, which expired on July 31.

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Hana Levi Julian is a Middle East news analyst with a degree in Mass Communication and Journalism from Southern Connecticut State University. A past columnist with The Jewish Press and senior editor at Arutz 7, Ms. Julian has written for Babble.com, Chabad.org and other media outlets, in addition to her years working in broadcast journalism.