Photo Credit: Yossi Aloni/Flash90
Prof. Galia Rahav, June 22, 2020.

The director of the infectious disease prevention unit at Sheba Hospital, Professor Galia Rahav, Told Reshet Bet radio Tuesday night that because Israel has administered such a record-breaking amount of the coronavirus vaccine, local health authorities have recorded side effects that had not been known to Pfizer.

About 2.7 million in Israel received the first dose of the coronavirus vaccine and 1.26 million also received the second dose.


Prof. Rahav explained that people who have been vaccinated come to the hospital with symptoms such as paralysis of the facial nerve and paresthesia—an abnormal sensation of the skin involving tingling, pricking, chilling, burning, and numbness. According to Rahav, these phenomena did not appear in the Pfizer study, and only after Israeli doctors had reported them to the company did they begin to appear in its reports.

Rahav pointed to “the involvement of all kinds of nerves that we can’t yet directly link to the vaccine,” and noted that “at first they said it was hysterical women, but it probably wasn’t, because we’ve seen it in men, too.”

Professor Rahav emphasized that these are probably transient effects and added that it is impossible to know for sure that the vaccine causes these effects, but because it’s a new vaccine, “one has to test, learn and see.”

“Only now are we learning about the effectiveness of the vaccine in real life,” Rahav said. “In everyday life, you learn different things, the efficiency is a little different. When we vaccinate 2.5 million people at once, clearly we’ll see all kinds of phenomena occurring.”

Galia Rahav specialized in internal medicine, infectious diseases, and clinical microbiology at Hadassah Hospital in Jerusalem. She worked in the Infectious Diseases unit and Clinical Microbiology at Hadassah Ein Kerem and later moved to manage the infectious disease unit at Sheba Tel Hashomer Hospital. In recent years, Prof. Rahav has been regularly selected as an outstanding lecturer at Tel Aviv University, as well as an outstanding physician, according to Forbes Magazine’s rating. In 2021, she was elected chairwoman of the Israel Society for Infectious Diseases.

The Health Ministry reported Tuesday morning that 226,000 Israelis had been vaccinated on Monday. Since the beginning of the vaccination campaign, close to four million vaccine injections have been given.

According to the Health Ministry, 63 out of 428,000 people (0.014%) contracted the Corona after a week had passed since they were vaccinated with the second dose.

Meanwhile, the Health Ministry estimates that 20% fewer doctors in the Arab sector have been vaccinated compared to the general population, which could lead to a manpower shortage in the hospitals precisely at a time when the workload there is significantly higher.

The Health Ministry said the problem areas in responding to the vaccine campaign are the Bedouin in the Negev and eastern Jerusalem Arabs. Additional efforts will be made to increase the number of vaccinations in these areas.

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