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Pfizer: Vaccine works against Delta strain

Data shows that the efficacy of the Pfizer Inc. /BioNTech SE coronavirus vaccine is about 90% successful against contagion of the Delta variant (from India), while providing around 95% protection from serious illness.

This from Dr. Alon Rapaport, who is the Medical Director at Pfizer Israel.

The reassuring message comes as 148 new COVID-19 infections were confirmed yesterday, marking the highest daily increase since May. Binyamina has now been classified as a “red city” due to an outbreak there.

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett approved the establishment and composition of the ministerial committee on dealing with the coronavirus (the Corona Cabinet). The Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) released a statement noting that Bennett “intends to legislate a reduction in the composition of the committee in the future in order to maintain an efficient working mechanism and focused discussions.”

Current members of Israel’s Coronavirus Cabinet include the Premier, Alternate Premier and Foreign Minister Yair Lapid, Defense Minister Benny Gantz, Finance Minister Avigdor Liberman, Justice Minister Gideon Sa’ar, Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked, Public Security Minister Omer Bar-Lev, Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz, Education Minister Yifat Shasha-Biton, Housing and Construction Minister Ze’ev Elkin, Religious Services Minister Matan Kahane, Economy and Industry Minister Orna Barbivay.

It was also announced that “In the context of the changes in the composition of the committee, Innovation and Science Minister Orit Farkash Hacohen and Tourism Minister Yoel Razvozov will be added to it. Pending completion of the legislation, they will be invited to committee discussions.”

Bennett also held a discussion on the pandemic, with emphasis on the Delta variant.

According to another PMO statement, participating in the discussion were the Health Minister, the head of the National Security Council, the Attorney General, the national coronavirus project director, the Health Ministry Director General, the Tourism Ministry Director General, the Airports Authority Director General, the head of the Civil Aviation Authority, the Finance Ministry Budget Director and senior officials from the Health Ministry, the Population Authority and the Israel Police, as well as various experts including Prof. Ran Balicer, Prof. Eli Wachsman and Prof. Eran Segal.

“Our goal at the moment, first and foremost, is to safeguard the citizens of Israel from the Delta variant that is running amok in the world,” said the Premier, adding his intent to do all possible to “minimize harm to routine life in the country.”

“Therefore,” he said, “we have decided to take action as soon as possible – even now – in order not to pay a heavier price later, by taking quick and responsible actions.”

Saying, “This depends on us. If we strictly adhere to the rules and act responsibly, we will succeed in this together,” Bennett directed the professional officials to undertake the following efforts to curb further spread of the disease:

  1. Launch a national operation to vaccinate all citizens aged 12 and over.
  2. Resume operation of the national network to curb spread of the infection in cooperation with local authorities, reinforced by the appropriate resources.
  3. Reimpose the wearing of masks in closed spaces mandate if daily infections top 100.
  4. All organizations tasked with fighting COVID-19 (such as the Health Ministry control center) will continue operations, which will be bolstered as deemed necessary.
  5. Initiation of a public information campaign, starting today, to increase the vaccination effort and strict maintenance of obligation to quarantine .
  6. Formulation of a plan to increase enforcement of quarantine violations by verified patients, including prosecution and severe penalties.
  7. The “Magen Avot” testing plan will resume operations with the number of daily tests increased to 10,000.
  8. Decisions regarding the Ben Gurion International Airport will be applied at the other international border crossings. This includes the signing of declarations by all outbound Israelis that they will not enter high-risk nations (Argentina, Brazil, Russia, Mexico, South Africa and India).
  9. A one month postponement of allowing foreign tourists to enter Israel, from 1 July to 1 August (with the exception of group tours).

Israel has been a world leader with its vaccine rollout and has been sharing data it collected with Pfizer, which provided the vaccines. Nearly all social distancing measures were dropped last month after infections dropped to single digits from more than 10,000 daily cases in January.