UK told to ‘take notice’ as Israeli scientist rings alarm – Course of pandemic ‘altered’
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And Eran Segal, a professor at the Weizmann Institute of Science and an advisor to the Israeli government, predicted further challenges lay ahead in the form of new strains of the disease. Prof Segal said there was “no question” his country was now experiencing a fourth wave of COVID-19, despite having led the way with the vaccine rollout for its nine million citizens.
As a result, infection rates were climbing towards a peak last seen in January, when Israel witnessed up to 10,000 new cases a day.
Significantly, on Monday, there were almost 9,000, with a consequent increase in the number of deaths, he pointed out.
Writing in the Daily Mail, Prof Segal added: “Just a few months ago, we were cautiously hopeful that our stringent policy of vaccination was going to beat the virus.
Other nations have to take notice and act now
“We’re only just waking up to these consequences in Israel where, as the first country in the world to vaccinate most of our population, we are also the first to see the impact of the waning effect. Other nations have to take notice and act now.”
Nor was the vaccine – both in terms of its take-up and effectiveness – the only problem, Prof Segal said.
He explained: “There’s another unknown in the mix. When we began vaccinating, the Delta variant had not yet surfaced.
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“Other variants are constantly evolving around the world. What we have yet to find out is whether there will be even more aggressive new variants. That’s the bad news.”
However, he stressed: “After a slow start, Israel’s booster jab programme is now operating at maximum capacity.
“Within two weeks, all the over-60s and over-50s will have been offered the booster.”
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Mr Segal was “cautiously hopeful” that as of today, almost everyone over the age of 40 in his country will likewise have been offered a third jab.
He said: “However, this is not a clinical trial under controlled conditions. It is happening in the real world which means there could be many other factors at play.
“Even so, there is growing confidence that the boosters are already having a positive effect.”
As for vaccination rates, Prof Segal suggested laziness, not hostility, was a plausible explanation in many instances.
He said: “In Israel, there are 1.1million people aged 12 and over who have not been vaccinated. More than half of them are under 30.
“I don’t believe that all these people are committed anti-vaxxers. Most just haven’t bothered. But that attitude is hitting the whole country hard now and we must redouble efforts to encourage people to accept their responsibility and get jabbed.”
Prof Segal said it was too early to tell whether another lockdown was on its way but thanks to the booster injections, Israel should be past the worst by the middle of next month – without the need for fresh restrictions.
He concluded: “What is certain is that Britain has a chance to learn from our mistakes and avoid the pain of a fourth wave.
“And the time to start a campaign of booster jabs may be now.”
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