As Israel races to vaccinate its population to bring the coronavirus under control, a new report shows that even though one million Israelis have been vaccinated, the virus remains difficult to eradicate.
To date, 240 Israelis who received the first dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine have later been diagnosed with the virus, according to the Times of Israel.
Two factors are at work. For one, the first dose of the Pfizer vaccine is only touted to provide 50 percent immunity. It is not until the second dose is administered 21 days after the first dose that 95 percent immunity is achieved.
The second issue is that the injection does not promise instant immunity.
A primer on vaccines published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention notes that vaccines do not confer instant immunity.
“[I]t typically takes a few weeks for the body to produce T-lymphocytes and B-lymphocytes after vaccination,” the CDC wrote, referring to the types of cells that fight disease.
“Therefore, it is possible that a person infected with a disease just before or just after vaccination could develop symptoms and get a disease, because the vaccine has not had enough time to provide protection,” it added in the 2018 publication.
“It typically takes a few weeks for the body to build immunity after vaccination. That means it’s possible a person could be infected with the virus that causes COVID-19 just before or just after vaccination and get sick. This is because the vaccine has not had enough time to provide protection,” it wrote.
Israel has been aggressive in vaccinating its population. More than 1 million people have been vaccinated as of Saturday, according to Health Minister Yuli Edelstein and reported by Haaretz.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has called Israel a “champion in vaccines” and said it was “ahead” of the world.
“Maybe we will be the first country in the world to emerge from this coronavirus, and this is very great news for all of us,” he said recently, according to NBC.
Boaz Lev, who leads the Israeli Health Ministry’s advisory committee for coronavirus vaccines, said the strong organization has ensured fast distribution as the small nation seeks to build herd immunity to the virus.
“I really hope we will be the first country to be vaccinated. I hope the whole world will be coming along,” Lev said.
“And it’s not a race against other countries. It’s a race against the virus, so in this race everyone wants to win, and I really hope we will be there as soon as possible,” he said.
But times are desperate. Currently in its third major coronavirus lockdown, Israel has heard calls from some officials to extend the 21-day period between doses of the Pfizer vaccine in order to give more people limited immunity.
That notion was rejected Sunday by Professor Hezi Levy, director-general of the Health Ministry, who said the vaccine will be used in accordance with the instructions provided by Pfizer.
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