As Israelis consider going back to normal, they remain under a strict lockdown. Enforcement has been particularly challenging in Israel’s ultra-Orthodox communities, where rabbis have resisted shutting schools, large-scale gatherings have continued and police have been reluctant to enforce the rules. The ultra-Orthodox are protesting a proposal to increase fines for violations.
Health officials suspect the highly contagious U.K. variant of Covid-19 sparked the recent surge in cases. Pfizer says it is still testing its shot against new variants.
Early Israeli studies of the virus are offering hope. Maccabi Healthcare Services’ research arm said it saw a 60% reduction in coronavirus infections two days after the second dose was administered to its patients aged over 60, as well as a 60% drop in hospitalizations among people over 60 two days after the second shot. It also found that of 128,600 people who received both doses, just 20 people contracted Covid-19 more than one week after the second dose. Half of those people suffer from chronic illnesses, they said.