Less than a month into a COVID-19 vaccine booster drive, Israel is seeing signs of an impact on the country’s high infection and severe illness rates fuelled by the fast-spreading Delta variant, officials and scientists say.
Delta hit Israel in June, just as the country began to reap the benefits of one of the world’s fastest vaccine roll-outs.
On July 30, it began administering a third dose of the Pfizer (PFE.N)/BioNtech (22UAy.DE) vaccine to people over 60, the first country to do so. On Thursday it expanded eligibility to 30-year-olds and up whose second dose was given at least 5 months prior, saying the age may drop further.
In the past 10 days, the pandemic is abating among the first age group, more than a million of whom have received a third vaccine dose, according to Israeli health ministry data and scientists interviewed by Reuters.
The rate of disease spread among vaccinated people age 60 and over – known as the reproduction rate – began falling steadily around Aug. 13 and has dipped below 1, indicating that each infected person is transmitting the virus to fewer than one other person. A reproduction rate of less than 1 means an outbreak is subsiding.