Israel records no Covid deaths as jab roll out drives forward

John Dunne
·2-min read
<p>Israel is to welcome vaccinated UK tourists from next month as infection rates plummet in the country.</p> (PA)

Israel is to welcome vaccinated UK tourists from next month as infection rates plummet in the country.


Israel has recorded no new daily Covid-19 deaths for the first time in 10 months as the country’s vaccination campaign drives forward.

The death toll remained unchanged at 6,346 on Thursday, health ministry data showed.

The last time Israel reported zero Covid-19 deaths was at the end of June last year when lockdown measures helped limit the effect of its first wave.

Israel’s outbreak has eased after hitting a peak in January this year.

The Israeli government started to relax lockdown restrictions a month later as vaccinations against Covid-19 were rolled out to the wider population.

Israel has the highest vaccination rate in the world and hit has five million Covid-19 vaccinations.

The health ministry said more than 53% of the country’s population of about nine million people had received two doses of vaccine. The success of the jab rollout means that vaccinated Brits will be permitted to holiday in the country from next month.

Health Minister Yuli Edelstein tweeted after the news of a day with no deaths: “This is a tremendous achievement for the health system and Israeli citizens. Together we are eradicating the coronavirus.”

Last week Eyal Leshem, a director at Israel’s largest hospital, the Sheba Medical Center, said the country may be close to reaching “herd immunity”.

Herd immunity happens when enough of a population has protection against an infection which stops it spreading.

World Health Organization (WHO) experts have estimated that at least 65%-70% of a population need vaccination coverage before herd immunity is reached.

Mr Leshem said herd immunity was the “only explanation” for Israel’s continued fall in cases as more restrictions were lifted.

“There is a continuous decline despite returning to near normalcy,” he said.

“This tells us that even if a person is infected, most people they meet walking around won’t be infected by them.”

Israel began its vaccination campaign last December and has consistently led globally on doses per head of population.

The country has so far relied on only the two-shot vaccine developed by Pfizer and BioNTech.

In February, Israel’s health ministry said studies revealed the risk of illness from the virus had dropped 95.8% among people who have had both doses of the Pfizer vaccine.

The country is preparing to start vaccinating children aged 12-15 as soon as the US Food and Drugs Administration, a regulator, approves vaccine use for people in that age bracket.

But while Israel has surged ahead with its vaccination programme the Palestinian territories have not fared so well.

In March, the Palestinians received the first shipment of about 60,000 vaccines doses under the international Covax vaccine-sharing scheme, which helps give poorer territories access to a vaccine.

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