Israel’s third largest health fund is calling on health officials to consider pushing off the issuance of green passports by a week to two weeks after the second jab following new data it released on Monday.
A new report by the Meuhedet health fund covering some 102,150 Israelis who had been vaccinated for at least 35 days showed that full immunity is obtained only two weeks after the second vaccine dose is given. As such, providing people with their green passports and removing restrictions on social distancing just one week after receiving the second dose could lead to a spike in infection, the research showed.
The report came out on the day that Israel celebrated the vaccination of its five millionth citizen and only a day after Israel rolled out the third stage of its exit strategy, which includes opening up restaurants, cafes, event halls and more.
Specifically, Meuhedet’s research institute found that 55% of those vaccinated with two doses were diagnosed within the first week after receiving their second jab. The researchers believe that in many of these cases people verified at this stage were not fully vaccinated or could have even contracted coronavirus before getting their second shot.
However, more strikingly, the study showed that some 27% of those infected were diagnosed between the eighth and 14th days after receiving the vaccine, when according to health experts’ understanding people are meant to have developed full immunity.
Only after 14 days of receiving the second dose did that number substantially decrease to between 5% and 9%.
“Removing the restrictions on social distancing and applying the green passport on the eighth day after receiving the second vaccine is too early,” said Dr. Dudi Mosinzon, director of Meuhdet’s medical division. He warned against a situation in which thousands of Israelis will enter a mass event “in good faith” and end up infected.
However, the health fund stressed that “the vaccine is very effective” and that fewer than 0.5% of patients who were fully vaccinated were diagnosed with coronavirus.